Peter Paul: The Chase Begins

Synopsis

     Peter Paul grew up as an orphan on the streets of L.A. but he's different- a DNA mixture altered through genetic experimentation by a diabolical laboratory with instincts such as a cheetah. His friend and confidant is Roy Pierce. However, Roy’s friendship threatens danger and exposure to Peter Paul.
     Special investigative teams, Team New York and Team Vegas, are formed to capture them consisting of Navy Seals, Marine Recons, and undercover CIA operatives. Peter Paul must fight for his life and his friends.
     From the brilliant imagination of novelist Stokely Gittens, Peter Paul is an action-packed story with fascinating characters that will keep readers guessing.

Preface

     It wasn’t the first time my mother woke me in the middle of the night, but it was to be the last.
     “Get up, Peter Paul,” she whispered loudly. “Up, up, up! Get dressed quickly. We’re going for a ride. C’mon, honey, chop-chop!”
      I was too tired to ask why, too tired to argue. And five minutes later we were racing down the California cliffside highway in the pouring rain.
     I didn’t understand these middle-of-the-night drives. I didn’t know why I had to get dressed in two minutes flat and if I wasn’t finished dressing, my father would pick me up and whisk me out the door, even if I still had one more shoe to put on. My father would tear out the driveway, run red lights, and my mother wouldn’t say a word the whole time.
     Tonight, though, she spoke. I noticed that my father kept looking in the rear-view mirror every few seconds. A car was following us. And then I caught the flash of fear in my father’s eye. That’s when my mother asked in a quiet voice, “Is it them?”
     Them. My parents had told me about them. They were always on the lookout for them. Them meant the bad guys, the men who wanted us dead. And from where I was sitting in the backseat, I watched my father’s eyes in the rear-view mirror flash a sliver of gold. Then he gave a quick nod to my mother. A nod that said, Yes, it’s them.
     I turned around in the back seat and looked out the rear window.
     “Peter Paul, don’t look!” my mother shouted.
     I think that scared me most of all.
     “Hang on,” my father said, and off we went, tearing down the rain-slick road and swerving up a side street. I looked back and the car was still there. I couldn’t see the driver in the dark and the rain. Then I couldn’t see the car at all because my father swerved again and lost the car.
     For only a moment. Another met us when we returned to the cliffside road. It felt like we would sail right off of the cliff, the way the car spun around when my father yanked at the steering wheel. The other car turned around, too, and followed us. We made a right turn down the valley and now there were two cars on our trail. My parents decided that we were going to get out of the car and go up the valley and into the woods.
     My mother turned around in the front seat and held my face in her hands as she said, “Peter Paul, do you remember the game? The game we play at night in the woods? Can we play it now?”
     I nodded, but I knew it wasn’t just a pretend game this time, not tonight. Tonight there weren’t pretend bad men chasing us; there were real bad men, and they were in the car right behind us.
     “Can you do it, honey?” she whispered to me.
     I nodded. Of course I could do it. I might have been only three years old, but I was the size of an eleven-year-old. Already my blood pressure was rising, and saliva dripped down my chin as my glands fed my rage. I uttered a low growl. I wanted to kill them—those men who hunted us night and day. I wanted to kill them with my hands and teeth.
     I looked out the rear window of our car and saw there were three men in one van and four men in the other. I can do this, I thought to myself.
     “Hang on,” my father shouted, and swerved the car off the road. My mother grabbed me by the neck with her fierce hands as the car tore down a steep embankment into a rough and heavily wooded terrain.
     “Listen!” my father shouted. “When I give, as soon as the car stops, get out and run up the valley! Got that, Peter Paul?”
     I nodded mutely. I can do this… I can do this…
     “Now! Out of the car! Get out! Run!”
     Every hair on my body was on edge. My heart was pumping furiously. We dashed out of the moving vehicle. Wood and sticks splintered into my body, but I kept running with my speed ever-accelerating. We ran with our hands and feet. But that wasn’t good enough. As my father neared the top of the valley at blazing speed, he was shot and killed. My mother was also killed as she was several paces behind him. I dashed behind a rock as shots kept blazing their way uphill. I started growling. I wanted to fight. But imprinted in my mind were the words my mother had told me every night when she tucked me in, If something should happen to me and your father—if they catch us—what do you do?
     Keep running, I replied.
     Even if we’re hurt? Or killed?
     That was the hardest question to answer.
     Peter Paul? Even if we’re hurt or killed—what do you do?
     Keep running, I said. Don’t look back.
     Say it again, Peter Paul. Say it again!
     Keep running, don’t look back. Keep running, don’t look back. Keep running.
Don’t look back. Keep running…


Chapter One - Cranthorn Institute

     At 0600 hours Dr. Elliot Ripken departed on a military jet from McGuire Air Force Base, eighteen miles south of Trenton, New Jersey. Plenty of time to make it to Tempe, he reflected as he unfastened his seat belt. He whiled away the time by reviewing the latest briefings, but concentration was difficult.
     What to do about Clifton . . .
     The question that nagged him was whether a key hostage should be executed or kept alive.
     Clifton was a model hostage. Very cooperative. He actually seemed to like turning people in. At first he was adamant on remaining silent but after a few jolts of electricity and with some prodding of a whip he started talking like a parrot. Clifton had been kept alive for three months. His usefulness was diminishing.
     Maybe he could go out and get other hybrids for us, Ripken thought, but dismissed that idea almost immediately. Clifton had a taste of freedom, and that alone made another outing a dangerous proposition. Still, Ripken reflected, it didn’t hurt to let him think he had a future . . .
     Ripken slept soundly the rest of the flight.
     Upon arriving at the Cranthorn Institute’s private airstrip, he was saluted by an eager young lieutenant. “Good morning, Doctor. I mean, Commander, sir,” the soldier stammered.
     “Either way is fine, Lieutenant,” Ripken assured him with a tight smile. “So how many detainees do we have?”
     “Seven, sir. We got some more leads. I’m sure you’ll be excited.”
     Ripken sighed. “I’ll be excited when we eradicate these filthy mutts.”
     Dr. Ripken, a Marine Recon with the rank of commander, was head of the military division of Cranthorn Institute, a highly classified scientific/military facility near Tempe, Arizona. He was also going to be in several conferences at the Institute with the Director of Operations Research, the Science Research Unit, and several other higher-ups. This would be a busy and hectic week.
     Commander Ripken opened the chamber door and went into Cranthorn Institute. The Cranthorn Institute was a vast, sprawling scientific research facility. The main building, six stories tall and two stories deep, contained laboratories and various command and control operations. Another building housed the Satellite Navigation Systems Command and the Deployment and Operations Office. Yet another was the main weapons facility holding the latest high tech artillery, aircraft, and armored vehicles, as well as top-secret prototypes.
     As Ripken entered the security checkpoint inside the main building, he paused to allow a machine to scan his fingerprint. It also took a picture of his bioskeletal structure. The computer voice said, “Dr. Ripken. Welcome. Glad to see you.”
     “Yeah, you too,” he mumbled, then proceeded down the steel-floored corridor. Figures, he thought as he opened the door of the main conference room, a computer is the only one glad to see me.