I don’t know who picked me up off the highway before a storm of police and firefighters and paramedics and everyone else on the face of the planet showed up. All I know is that I woke up in a rough looking room that must have doubled as some sort of safe house.
Assassins have a love of back up plans and safe houses.
When I finally came to, I was met by a rather attractive face that slowly coalesced into Ana’s. She looked something close to defeated.
“Metze didn’t make it.”
Well. No more hyper active Metze. Another one down, one of so many.
“Do you have a plan?” Chase was patched up and wearing a fresh gray suit. The man must travel with dozens of them.
“Why do I have to have the plan?” I ask. Then I remember why. I have a dollar in my pocket, a promise. I would look after her.
It meant I would tear the world apart to get her out of whatever box they’d shoved her in. Maybe it was for experimentation or maybe they’d already killed her, but I didn’t think so.
The more likely route was they wanted her, for themselves. A killer. Like Declan but not as much of a raging asshole. I hope that asshole burns in hell.
I lay on whatever table they have me on and let the pain wash over me, nerve endings firing on all cylinders to remind me that I am hurt. Slowly, something clicks together.
We had a plan.
Now we have resources.
“Did you bring any explosives?”
The Karelian grins from ear to ear like he’s just been offered full paid retirement to an island of his choosing to be waited on hand and foot.
They would put her somewhere safe. The safest place in the building was one of two options. The Chairman’s actual office on the top floor or the secret-but-not-secret safe room he’d had build on the seventeenth floor next to the main conference room. That’s where all the big meetings took place, the airs of legitimacy.
I’d heard one or two presidents of various nations had sat in there.
But it had an adjacent room that could be cut off for at least a week while reinforcements flooded the building. That’s where I would put her. If she wasn’t dead.
She’s not dead.
She’s. Not. Dead.
I have to believe that.
“OK.” I sit up and ignore the burning of my nerve endings, the screaming of my brain to stop and crawl into a hole and just die.
“I have an idea.”
Someone far smarter and way more famous than I once said that there are only two things that are certain: death and taxes.
I defy that. Not that those aren’t certain, but life is full of certainties. I am certain that if I throw a rotten tomato at a stranger, they will express a certain level of anger. Am I certain they’ll punch me? No, not at all.
I’m just certain there will be some repercussion.
Just as I am certain, that if I leap from this helicopter I will find myself embracing the earth in a manner not so conducive to my well-being and general health.
Avery go splat. This is certain.
I am also certain that the Chairman has learned that we are not dead on the tarmac by now. I am certain that he has security rivaling that of major nations surrounding him. I am certain that his lofty building is protected from every angle, as it should be.
I am certain that the rooftop is secure.
I am also certain that it is not secure for what we are about to do.
“Are you sure about this?” Chase refused to be left behind, stitching himself up and joining us on this grand adventure. I carefully watch the two duffel bags, even though I know they are completely safe, and wonder if we would feel it. Would we have a moment of panic as the fire engulfed our bodies and seared our nerve endings shut? Would we know what was happening as our lungs were deprived of oxygen?
I don’t think so. It’d be like the blink of an eye.
I don’t have the near endless resources of the Chairman. I accepted that many years ago during one complicated job in my early days. I learned a lesson from that job. You don’t need lots of resources. You just need one guy that likes hard cash, every industry and building and military base has that one guy. Which is exactly how I got all the Composition 4 currently resting in the heavy bags.
“Yes, I am sure.” Not even a little.
“The police won’t ignore that.”
By the time Chester managed to get to us with our previously stolen helicopter – thank goodness we didn’t take it back – night had come. There’s upsides and downsides to that, the downside being that it’s highly likely that everyone who came for the Moot is in the building.
The upside being that everyone who came is in the building.
Our helicopter skims the city, Chester ignoring any challenges as he guides us towards the toward of assassinery power. Still can’t be a word but I am sticking to it.
“Thanks for coming along.” I say, going for a nice, somber moment before we all go to our deaths.
“Fuck off.” They all say in unison. That kills the tension more than any inspiring speech could possibly manage. Chester holds up two fingers as he circles the tower, indicating we have two minutes. This is where Anastazie’s survival of the ambush really pays off.
“Anastazie-” she shakes her head and takes up her position on the chopper floor, facing out an open side door.
“Ana, please. It’s just easier.”
I’m a quick shot. Chase is a knife man. The Karelian loves to go with the big guns.
Ana is more comfortable behind the sights of a sniper rifle, more comfortable than some people are with breathing. Chester keeps the smooth circle going, about seven hundred feet out. We know there’s guards on the roof.
They don’t last long against a force they can’t see, even if they’re counter-snipers. I watch, enthralled, as the rifle recoil shudders through her shoulder. Empty rounds hit my shin, tumbling out of the helicopter and into empty space to hit the streets or rooftops below. She takes ten shots and then looks up.
Chester obliges. He closes the gap with the helicopter, swooping in low to the rooftop where scattered bodies provide gruesome decoration. Now comes the fun bit where we alert the entire city, maybe the country, to what’s happening. The Karelian leans out with the light machine gun and begins firing down into massive glass skylights that The Chairman had installed. If rumors were true, they were bulletproof.
Sure. Water can wear down a mountain though. And bullets hit harder than water. For the most part. Let’s not do a physics lesson. He keeps a focused fire on a space that’s only about five feet by five feet.
Enough for a duffel bag.
I can imagine The Chairman, standing in his favorite conference room with all those polished cherry hardwood surfaces, fancy carafes, and shiny leather chairs. The others will have questions about Robert and Oscar. He will have given them some sort of bullshit answer or maybe he’ll have just sold them down the river. Called them traitors. There would be general murmuring that would be interrupted by security shouting and carrying on about something happening on the roof.
Maybe their radios would chatter away with alerts. At least a hundred highly trained assassins combined with the mercenary army would leap into action. They would come from the ground level, armed and ready to go. They would be rushing up staircases and taking elevators, they would be securing the conference room and tugging on body armor. They would be doing all the things they should be doing.
All the things I would expect them to do.
No one would really be questioning the gunfire being focused. They might not even realize it. They would be rushing to the railings of the various floors and looking up. I hold up my handgun at the doorway I can see from the building, leading to the roof. It bursts open and a goon comes out, rifle up. He goes down, a fresh new breathing hole in his nose. Less for breathing, more for dying.
“Do it!” The Karelian shouts, adjusting his line of fire to the doorway to drive back our new friends.
I do it.
I kick the duffel bags out of the helicopter and down through the hole, giving a five second count between. They tumble down into the open space of the building’s atrium.
More men are rushing up to the roof where they know the threat is. Some will remain on the ground floor. Somewhere, a purchased police force will be fielding calls about the noise. They’ll be writing it off.
They continue to rush up. The Karelian cuts down two more and they stop coming out that doorway, always a smart choice when your friends have been killed the moment they stepped out.
Still they come up. Someone might be watching a bag fall with curiosity, tilting their head as the first goes down past them towards a lower floor.
That person might spot the one higher up, still confused. Wondering what the hell those bags might be. There might be a spark of understanding or concern in the back of their mind but it’s not enough yet.
That’s good enough. I hit the trigger and a series of detonators send their electrical shock into the bricks, one of the few ways to set them off.
It is…intense. More so than I expected. I suppose a demolitions expert might have cautioned using so much, or maybe someone with just an ounce more brainpower than me. Luckily, I’m not so burdened with caution.
The C4 explodes at about the fifteenth and the twentieth floors. I was hoping to sandwich the explosions just below the conference room and cut off any support by going lower. I also, sort of, just hoped that Nova wouldn’t be right there when of one of the bags went off. Sometimes, just sometimes, you have to take things on faith.
If Chase wasn’t with us we would have died. The open atrium funneled a storm of fire up, blasting through the glass and coming for us. Chester banked away as best he could, but Chase did the hard work. He held out his hands and pushed the leading edge of the flames over the rooftop in a searing plane of death. I hear screaming as the fire found it’s way through the doors and openings, not to mention the huge bursts of fire, glass, and metal out the side of the building. At least three floors would need some major renovation work, at the very least.
The vibration shattered glass all the way up and down the tower, shaking the whole damn city. Someone was screaming “fuck” the entire time it was happening.
It was me.
It took a relative eternity for my hearing to return and the explosion to fade enough that I could think again. Chester recovered the helicopter and took us down above the now open space of the roof. Ana hooked me and the Karelian up to the steel rings, using nylon harnesses. I wish that person would stop screaming “fuck” and let me think.
Right. It’s me. I can stop whenever I want.
“Ready?” The Karelian asks, grinning ear to ear and I think laughing hysterically.
“Fuck no!” I hear myself shout back, watching chunks of glass and metal fall into the open atrium among all that screaming and chaos I just caused.
I probably brought the building down, if not right this moment then in short order. Now we’re going in? To that?
“Good!” Before I can react, he takes me and pulls me out with him into an open-air rappel.
And just think.
We’ve only started.