Best friends Kayla Falk, an engineering student, and Olivia Bellamy, who is studying nursing, are nearing the end of their college career when terrorists attack their university. Through a combination of cleverness, bravery, and luck, the two manage to foil the deadly plot. A mysterious man from the United States government, Mr. Hightower, sees their potential and attempts to recruit Kayla and Olivia for a program to take on ISIS. They initially refuse, but another terrorist attack that strikes close to home pushes them to change their minds and join the Azrael Initiative.
After several months of hard training, the two women are dropped into Al-Raqqah, the capital of ISIS, in Syria. Once there, they must blend in with the locals as they strike from the shadows to kill ISIS leaders, destroy their facilities, and free captives. As Americans deep within enemy territory, they know that they will be killed if discovered. As women, they also know that they would suffer before death. Walking the line between vengeance and justice strains their relationship. As they work to resolve their differences, the symphony of brutality around them ultimately pushes them closer together and forges them into the warriors that they were meant to become.
Dodging to her right, Kayla sidestepped the fist aimed at her head as it passed close enough to feel the air move. Her auburn ponytail swinging as she danced around her opponent, Kayla watched with bright green eyes and waited for any opening, any weakness to exploit. She did not waste her energy on extra movements or attacks, preferring to let her adversary tire herself and present an opportunity.
Her opponent had a fierce look in her blue eyes as she came at Kayla with a strike of her left hand. Kayla stopped the blow. The hand latched onto her shoulder and dug into the flesh above her collarbone. Kayla staggered back at the pain. The hand released, then both combatants regained their balance.
As another blow came toward Kayla, she sensed that her foe had placed too much weight on her front foot. With a swift movement, Kayla slid to the side, grabbed the incoming arm, and sent her attacker tumbling to the blue padded floor.
“Enough!” said Olivia, with her arms up and palms facing Kayla.
“Next time, don’t let yourself get caught off balance,” said Kayla, as she extended her hand to help Olivia to her feet.
“Off balance? Naw, I just hadn’t done a somersault in forever,” grinned Olivia, her sapphire eyes twinkling. “Besides, I felt like taking a nap on this comfy mat.”
“Maybe next time I’ll give you that nap.” Kayla joked.
“Just make sure you tuck me in first,” responded Olivia as she brushed herself off.
“I believe that I’m two out of three this week. Hope you’re not losing your edge,” teased Kayla.
“Of course not. After kicking your ass all of last week, I thought you could use a couple of wins,” Olivia smirked.
Catching her breath, Kayla glanced around the gym where they held their morning training sessions. She saw other pairs finishing their own bouts and heading to the locker room. Training here required hard work, but Kayla always left feeling reinvigorated and confident about facing the challenges of being an engineering student. Besides, she always enjoyed throwing Olivia around a bit.
As the two of them walked toward the locker room, Kayla wiped the sweat from her forehead and Olivia shook her long blonde hair free of her headband.
“I’d better get ready so that I can head to the workshop to work on my senior design project,” Kayla said.
“Yeah, I need to head out, too. Class is in half an hour. See you for dinner?”
“Sure, we’ll just meet at the Union around 5:30, if that works.”
“Sounds good to me!” smiled Olivia.
K Hanson is a new author and is currently working on launching his debut novel, The Azrael Initiative, which features two young women being thrown into the fight against ISIS. He is also working on Storm Raven, the first book in a new fantasy series.
K lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he works as a software developer. In his spare time, when he isn’t writing, he enjoys reading, working out, playing video games, and spending time with his wonderful girlfriend, Bobbi.
Some of his favorite authors are Tom Clancy, George R. R. Martin, and Sarah Maas.
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