Black Flagged Apex

By: Steven Konkoly

Book Three in the Black Flagged Series





About Black Flagged Apex





Black Flagged Apex takes place on the heels of Black Flagged Redux. Admittedly, I took a little heat for ending Redux with the virus canisters unrecovered and Petrovich's team still pursuing leads related to Al Qaeda's possible intention to unleash the virus in the United States. For me, this was a logical cut off point for the novel, since most of the novel’s initial conflict had been resolved, and I could go no further without locking myself into another 500 pages. As you read Apex, I think you'll better understand why I separated the two stories. They are uniquely different in many ways. For those that found the Redux ending to be abrupt, I thank you for persevering to read the series.



It has been my goal all along to keep the Black Flagged series free of politics in the traditional, partisan sense of the word. “Politics” found in the series came mainly in the form of inter-agency conflict and cut throat careerism. I simply never envisioned the series storyline straying beyond these boundaries. As Black Flagged Apex’s plot developed, I quickly realized that I would no longer have this luxury.



In an attempt to avoid maligning any particular political party, I created a third party called True America to serve the purpose of providing the historical stage on which the story’s conflict is born. I borrowed concepts from two political parties in particular to create the founding principles of True America. Namely, The Libertarian Party and the Tea Party. As you’ll soon read, rogue elements within my fictional political party have their own vision for America, one that lacks any resemblance to the ideals and methods advocated by either the Libertarian Party or Tea Party.



Like Black Flagged Redux, keep in mind that the scenes occur in chronological order and are labeled in local time. Here is a short list of the time zone differences between the locations featured in the Black Flagged Apex and the U.S. East Coast: Argentina +2 hours, Moscow +9 hours, Germany +6 hours, Novosibirsk +11 hours, Sweden +6 hours.



Finally, don't forget about the character list, which can be accessed from the link below and is accessible through the Features Index. You can also print one from my blog www.stevenkonkoly.com. I'm not saying you'll need it, but Black Flagged Apex adds to the memorable character list from Black Flagged Redux.



Apex Character List



As always, enjoy the book and don't hesitate to contact me with your thoughts and feedback at [email protected]





"Apex"- Latin, meaning high point or culmination





BLACK VEIL





Late April 2008





Chapter 1





6:42 AM

South 20th Street

Newark, New Jersey



Special Agent Ethan Reeves rubbed his eyes and took a sip of bitter coffee from a worn blue travel mug. Sunlight crept through the open doorway connecting the front room of the apartment to the kitchen, spreading along the worn gray carpeting. Through the opening, he heard Special Agent Dave Howard rummage noisily through cabinets and drawers. Muttered obscenities floated into the quiet room, causing a barely discernible grin to form on his face.

"The sugar's gone," Reeves said.

"What happened to the rest of the packets?"

"You forgot to put them in the fridge last night. The mice showed up again. Crapped all over the kitchen table too," Reeves said.

"Sorry about that. I'll head out a little later. This place is fucking disgusting. Did I mention that before?" Howard groaned.

"That's the first time today. I'll call the incoming team and let them know what they need to bring," he said blandly.

Reeves shook his wireless mouse and brought one of the computer monitors back to life. He leaned back and slouched in the stiff, inexpensive office chair that the Newark field office had finally approved. Before these arrived, they had suffered through the day on folding chairs, frequently standing up to stretch out ever-tightening backs and hamstrings.

By mid-afternoon, he usually spent more time standing than sitting. At the end of a week's rotation, Reeves felt twice his age. His body would slowly recover over the weekend, eventually returning to normal before he reported to the Newark field office on Monday. There, he would enjoy a few days of slightly less mundane work, constantly dreading the arrival of Friday morning, when he would report for another week of duty holed up in their surveillance post. One week on. One week off. Pure agony.

So far, the realities of stakeout duty had met few of his preconceived notions. Instructors at the FBI Academy tried to manage every new agent's expectations about the job, but they had failed miserably to prepare him for the inevitable stakeout assignment. Reeves stubbornly held onto his pre-academy fantasies; daydreams that put him in a desperate position to singlehandedly apprehend one of the nation's most wanted terrorists and stop the next 9/11. He needed to cling to this delusion, because after five months of reviewing digital feeds and adjusting surveillance equipment, cynicism had started to blanket his romantic notions about life as a special agent in the FBI.

His partner, an even-keeled, fifteen-year veteran of the bureau, did his best to maintain an enthusiastic façade, but Reeves could sense that Special Agent Howard's FBI spark had been extinguished long ago. Howard quickly steered their conversations away from work, focusing on family, friends, hobbies, vacations…anything but FBI work. Luckily for Reeves, Dave was an entertaining and comical storyteller because as a single, newly minted agent, their lives had little in common beyond their FBI credentials.

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