Sunday, November 17, 2013 | By: Drotuno

Fire & Ice Chapter 9 & Pics

Chapter 9
“Wasn’t it Einstein that said, ‘I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones’?” Alice pondered over the video chat as I walked through the kitchen.
Jasper nodded absentmindedly as he continued to read everything she’d sent from Carlisle’s laptop. “Yeah, well, darlin’… It was Patton that said, ‘May God have mercy on my enemies because I won’t.’” He looked to her on the screen and raised an eyebrow at her. “Einstein was addicted to opium. Patton was a genius in the Second World War.”
She giggled. “Fair enough, Jazzy. And very true in this case, I guess.”
I smiled at the two of them. Jasper had a love for history, and Alice never forgot any-damn-thing, so they tested each other occasionally to see what quotes fit whatever case we were currently working. It seemed to be an inside joke, kept things easy between them. But this time, they had the whole crew joining in.

“No, no…Patton’s good, but Churchill fits this shit better,” Alec piped up, putting down the tablet he was scrolling through. “‘You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word. It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.’”
Emmett glanced up at all of them, his eyes landing on me, only to drag to Edward as he walked to the other end of the warehouse.
His eyes were sad, solemn as he spoke. “‘War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.’”
That shut them all up for a moment, and the truth of what he said came crashing down on me, making my eyes tear up a little. Emmett, while silly and easygoing, wasn’t stupid, neither was he liking what we were doing. It was a means to an end. And the end was getting Edward’s dad back. We were going to do whatever it took to do just that – nuclear bombs or not.
Jasper narrowed his eyes on Emmett. “Who the fuck said that?”
“Tolkien…you know, Lord of the Rings,” Emmett said with a smug grin. “Technically, it was Faramir in The Two Towers, but whatever.” He waved a hand, setting the duffle bag filled with weapons onto the kitchen counter.
Kurt snorted into a chuckle. “Shut up, precious,” he taunted, rolling his eyes. “We’ve got to figure this shit out!”
A laugh escaped me at that, but I tossed away my garbage and then walked to the cars we had parked inside the warehouse. From the outside, you couldn’t tell anyone was even there. We were protected by boarded-up windows and barely any other buildings near us. It made for a musty smell to the place, but it was safe.
We’d left most of our things in the chopper, which was why I’d had to hunt down a spare shirt for Edward. I’d tossed it onto the trunk of the car for when he was ready. Snatching it up, I made my way to the other end of the building, and I grimaced as I passed by the spot where they’d interrogated the sniper. Hell, I wasn’t even sure they’d gotten his name. There was water everywhere, both in buckets and on the floor in puddles. The chair, ropes, and the rag they’d wrapped around his face were still there, as well. Waterboarding was a nasty way to get someone to talk, but it was effective.
The sounds from my crew faded a little, even though they were debating pretty loudly as to what steps we should take next. The shower room wasn’t unlike the gym locker room from high school. Rows of showerheads lined the cracked and peeling walls, pipes weren’t exactly hidden, and there was a touch of mildew along the tiles. It wasn’t great, but at least there was hot water. The steam rose up around me as I stepped into the bathroom, but my heart shattered a little at the sight of my Edward – my strong, seemingly impervious Edward.
He was standing under the spray of the showerhead farthest from the door, his head bowed, his eyes closed, but his hands were opening and closing in a sign of pure stress and tension. And the slump of his shoulders told me all of this was weighing heavily on him. There was a beauty to him that almost always took my breath away. The muscles, the scar along his upper thigh that he received the day Sam died, the shadows that danced across his back and shoulders, the strong jawline that clenched over and over. To me, he was strength and comfort incarnate – a hero. But I could tell by his face that he wasn’t feeling very strong.
“Edward,” I called to him softly, and his gaze slowly opened to me, water coursing down his face. His eyes were so fucking green and tortured when they met mine, and the water dripping from his long eyelashes looked like tears. “Baby, you okay?” I asked him softly, setting the shirt down on top of his discarded clothes.
He said nothing, but reached up and shut off the water. Glancing around, I saw that he’d found a small towel, so I picked it up.
“C’mere,” I said, waving him to me.
Again, he stayed quiet, and as much as I always loved the sight of my naked and wet husband, it was his face to which I gave all of my attention.
When he reached for the towel, I smirked, holding it away from him. “I got this!” I teased, draping it over his head to roughly dry his hair, only to continue to dry him all over – face, chest, stomach, back, and legs. When I was done, I tossed the towel around his neck, pulling him closer. “I love you, Edward,” I vowed with a kiss to his lips. “And you’re doing the best you can, given the circumstances. No matter what happens, no one can fault you for that. Hear me?”
Edward didn’t answer me, but he moved so swiftly that I gasped in surprise. He snatched the towel from his neck and tossed it across the room. He reached for my shirt, yanking it off over my head. His eyes had been a sweet, worried green, but they darkened as he fumbled with my belt and pants. Knowing he needed this, knowing this was how Edward sometimes dealt with the really hard shit, I quickly caught up to his mood, kicking out of my shoes and socks.
Reaching back, I unhooked my bra, adding it to the pile of clothes, my eyes following Edward as he knelt before me. My skin broke out in goose bumps when his hands flattened down my sides and over my stomach, but he gripped my underwear and tugged them down.
He pulled me a stumbling step forward, dropping a rough kiss to my stomach and gentle one to the scar on my thigh, his eyes gazing up through long eyelashes. His entire expression screamed apologies, but also silently begged me at the same time.
I gave him a brief nod, and he stood before me, grabbing my waist, only to hoist me up. Immediately, my arms and legs locked around him. It was then that he paused, our lips barely touching, but he was so fucking hard that my eyes closed at the feel of him so close.
“Please,” was all he whispered before kissing me absolutely stupid, and it only stopped when a hiss escaped me when he pressed me firmly against the door of the shower room.
My head fell back when he buried his cock inside me, my mouth hanging open. It had been a long time since he’d taken me this way, all rough, up against the wall, his hands and body controlling everything. He’d told me once when we’d been hiding from Royce King and Riley Miller – back when only his touch could bring me peace – that he couldn’t wait to take me like that, so that he could control every orgasm I had. I’d found out that he did, indeed, control everything in this position.
We knew we needed to stay quiet, but Edward wasn’t gentle. He seemed to be channeling everything he was feeling, burying all his worry into me – something he’d always done. And at that very moment, as I was on the edge of coming, I understood what he’d meant back at the farm. My nightmare had made me reach for him, and he’d come willingly, telling me that he didn’t know anything else but to take care of me. That went both ways, and I’d gladly give Edward what he needed in order to simply get through, to be able to focus.
His mouth was hot and harsh on my neck as soft grunts escaped me with every thrust of his hips, every squeeze of his hands.
“Come, baby…please. You gotta come. I’m not gonna last,” he whispered into my ear, pulling back just enough for my hand to slip between us, though I was pretty sure it wouldn’t take much to send me flying.
And it didn’t. I came with an almost humorous squeak, burying it into his shoulder, my hands gripping his back shakily. Edward fell right behind me, one hand hitting the door beside my face, a long, slow, panting moan pushing out against my throat. He continued to hold me right there as I raked my fingers through his still-damp locks.
“You okay?” I whispered, kissing his jaw and pulling back to look at his handsome face.
He nodded, dropping his forehead to mine. Just when I thought he’d stay quiet, he spoke so very softly. “I-I d-don’t w-want t-to f-fuck th-this u-up, s-sweetness,” he admitted in a whisper. “Th-This i-is m-more th-than j-just a-a r-retrieval m-mission.” He closed his eyes for a moment, and it seemed he was gathering his emotions together. “This… Bella, this is millions of lives on the line. Not just my dad’s.”
I placed my hands over his eyes. “Close your eyes, Edward. Clear your mind. You say your dad wouldn’t want us doing this in trade for him. So put yourself in his place for just a second. What would you want? Hmm? How would he handle it if the situation was reversed?”
“I-I w-would w-want…” he sputtered, and I felt his brow furrow beneath my hands.
“I’d be worried…about you, the kids. I’d want you to be careful, but to be proactive, be smart.”
“Okay,” I said, dragging the word out and hoping he’d continue.
“I’d…” He swallowed nervously. “I wouldn’t want these motherfuckers to win. I’d want you to…open up hell and bring every demon with you.”
Grinning, I pulled my hands away from his eyes, only to cup either side of his stubbly face. “What else?”
“I’d want you to do what you had to, but in the end, they shouldn’t get shit,” he stated louder, with a little more oomph to it. “We should change the rules before it’s all over.”
“There he is,” I sighed to myself, almost sagging in relief. I kissed him roughly, squeezing his cheeks together. “Okay, so we’ll do that, but I think Eleazar’s right. I think we have to focus on one mission at a time. Your dad first…the nuclear shit second. Okay?”
“Priorities.” He nodded once, but had yet to set me down. “Dad would want us focused on doing what these assholes want, only because it would allow them to reveal themselves and their location as we got closer.”
“Chess strategy, Edward,” I said, nodding a little. “They move…we move. They want what we can get them. They have what we’d kill for. I think they’ll underestimate us in the long run.”
Edward nodded. “Yes! Exactly! Get dressed, sweetness. We have a night raid to plan.” He slipped me down gently to the floor, dropping a kiss to my lips. “And it’ll be tricky as fuck, considering the place is completely deserted.” He started to turn away, but stopped and cupped my chin. “Thank you, love.”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m just here for your amusement, Edward,” I teased him, squeaking when he popped my butt cheek. “Out! I need to clean up, too. And don’t start planning without me.”
He chuckled softly, shooting me a wink. “Yes, ma’am,” he said, pulling up his pants and stepping out of the shower room.
“Everybody shut the fuck up!” Edward yelled, pulling out Maslov’s phone as it rang shrilly inside the hotel room.
The whole lot of us clammed up, watching him take a deep breath before answering the call we’d been waiting on. We had a plan. We’d already moved locations to Kiev in the Ukraine, bringing us that much closer to Chernobyl. We’d pored over everything Alice had found on Carlisle’s laptop and sent to us. We’d opted for Gunter’s notes first, seeing as how we were closer to Chernobyl than MCC at the moment, not to mention MCC would be a dangerous and highly illegal operation. Chernobyl, while abandoned, was the easiest place to start. We were going for the missiles Gunter had left behind, and we hoped to hell and back that we’d find them.
Edward gave me a quick nod as I sent a rapid message to Alice to do her best to trace the call. Kurt quietly pulled up a video chat with her, setting the laptop in the middle of the paper-strewn dining table in our suite. Every other available surface in the side-by-side rooms were just about completely covered with weapons, equipment, and dark clothing. We were going in at night, going in silent, and taking what we needed.
“Cullen!” Edward barked, his upper lip twitching in pure hate and impatience, but his tell of nerves was the hand that raked through his hair. He was going to ask to speak to his dad.
“It’s time to talk, Cullen,” the rough Russian-accented voice rasped over the speakerphone.
“Hmm, no,” Edward replied firmly. “You get nothing from me until I’ve spoken to my father. I won’t do a fucking thing until I have more than a blurry-ass picture on a cell phone.”
“I figured as much,” he said with a hint of amusement to his tone, which made me narrow my eyes at the lit screen of the phone.
Russian was muffled in the background, but Kurt translated softly. “He’s telling someone to get him up, take the tape off…” His voice trailed off, but his eyes widened when we all heard the threat.
“Don’t try anything, Carlisle. Speak English. I’m well aware that you speak Spanish and French,” the man muttered, and then there was a rustling over the line.
Edward locked gazes with Eleazar, who had coached him on what to say to his dad, but he simply nodded at my husband.
“Edward?” Carlisle sighed wearily.
“Dad, you okay?” Edward asked, starting normally.
“About as good as I can be, son. Tell me Esme’s safe…”
Eleazar nodded again Edward’s way, motioning with his hand. We needed to encourage Carlisle to use code.
“She’s perfectly fine, Dad. She’s with the kids, but they all want a story from Poppy, Dad. What should I tell them?” Edward urged, using the code they’d discussed a long time ago.
Carlisle gasped a little, but didn’t miss a beat. “Tell them the story about Goldilocks…”
“Yes!” Emmett hissed softly, punching the air and grinning.
We all leaned closer, waiting for what he’d say next.
“The porridge is too hot, Goldilocks fell asleep in the basement, and the bears will be home any minute after they score some more food,” he replied quickly.
Jasper grinned, writing down what Carlisle had meant.
He’s held at gunpoint. He’s underground somewhere. He’s counted more than 20 different men guarding him.
Edward nodded once. “I’ll tell them, Dad. Hang in there. We’ll get you—”
“Not so fast, Edward,” the raspy voice interrupted. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”
Edward chuckled humorlessly. “Asshole, even if I didn’t know what the fuck you wanted, I’d still have your head on the end of a stick when this is all over. That is a fucking promise.”
“Do tell, son. And just what is it you think I want?”
“You said you wanted Alexander Gunter’s work back. Did you just mean the uranium, or did you mean the missiles he’s hidden, too?” Edward asked back snarkily, making sure that Eleazar was nodding in approval before going on. “Because, honestly, you’ll save me a shit-ton of trouble if it’s only the uranium.”
The line went silent for a moment, and Eleazar grinned, whispering, “He wants you to fail, which means he wants to be able to kill Carlisle. Keep talking; he’s underestimated your crew.”
Edward smirked. “Am I right, jackass?”
“Impressive,” the voice praised. “Maybe you’ll prove yourself useful after all. You have four days to get me what I want. After that, I may just stop feeding your father, let him rot…or maybe I’ll start removing appendages one at a time. We’ll start with fingers and toes. When I call again, you’d better be prepared to trade.”
The line went dead, but we all turned our attention to Alice, who was furiously typing away.
“Stolen Moscow number…using internet instead of cell towers…rerouted over…fuck, everywhere!” she muttered to herself, shaking her head. “Someone’s smart. They’re using a false IP address, pinging off…Moscow, Paris, New York, back to Dubai, Tokyo, Hong Kong…” She shook her head again and looked up. “I can’t track the call. I can work on the routing shit they’ve done, but it’ll take time. They’re using a ghost IP, cloning it, so it’s bouncing around everywhere.”
Eleazar nodded, but looked up when his own cell rang. “Shelly, did you catch that for me?” he asked without any preamble. “Right…stolen Moscow number,” he stated, shooting Alice a wink over the video chat. “Can you track it?” he asked, but shook his head. “Can you monitor that phone? No shit? Patch me through. I want to hear it.” He set the phone down, putting the speakerphone on. “Apparently, that same phone is making another call.”
We heard the ring before the line picked up, and we all listened intently.
The voice that answered had an accent, but it wasn’t has heavy as Carlisle’s captor. “What news do you have for me?”
Carlisle Cullen has proven most useful.” I recognized the voice of the man holding Carlisle.
I’m sure. He’s quite clever, not to mention that he stole my father’s work all those years ago. He should never have come back to Moscow. However, I knew if we took him, his son and his old friends would step forward. They had better beat Stefan’s men, or there’ll be hell to pay.”
They’re already two steps ahead.”
Don’t be so sure.”
The call ended, and we stopped, looking to Eleazar as he finished up his call.
When he set the phone down, he looked to Alice. “Vladimir Stahl,” he stated, and she nodded, her fingers flying over her keyboard. “Tell me what you’ve found out.”
Alice hit enter with a flourish, sending window after window of information to our laptop and tablets. “According to official records, our friend Vlad was, indeed, Alexander Gunter’s son. After Chernobyl, Gunter’s wife, Celia, took him and left Alexander. Due to rumors and investigations relating to the reactor meltdown, Celia changed her last name back to Stahl, along with her son’s. They never spoke to Alexander again.”
“And Stefan? Does that name mean anything to you?” Edward asked, looking between Felix, Alec, and Eleazar.
“Your dad and I bought weapons from a man named George Stefan one time in Croatia,” Alec murmured, shaking his head. “Could it be the same man?”
“Underground weapons dealer? Absolutely! Which would explain how they knew to take Carlisle in the first place,” Eleazar replied. “What’s the intel on him? American?”
Alec shrugged. “Not much, but yeah, he’s American. He’s exactly what you’d expect from someone like that. We needed untraceable weapons for a job, along with some C-4 and detonators. He was spot-on, professional, and delivered right when we needed him – no questions asked. Disappeared like a fart in the wind. It’s what he does. He works with former military and some organized crime families, providing high-powered weapons that can’t be tracked to anyone.”
Eleazar nodded, sitting back in his chair. “Which means he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the who or what, just simply about the pay at the end of the day.”
Edward leaned against the dresser, crossing his arms and legs. “Which means it’s possible we’ll run into company along the way,” he pondered aloud, his brow furrowing. “That fucker gave us four days…” His voice trailed off for a moment, looking to me, to Eleazar, and finally to Alice. “Alice…dig deep into Stahl. Find out if he owns anything, where his ass has worked, where he pays his bills…everything. Use his mother’s name, too. It’s possible he’s trying to stay low, off the grid. If you find properties, we may find where they’re keeping my dad.”
“Yep, yep, yep.” She nodded, but looked up. “Oh, and you should know that Sergei Maslov is in critical condition. They don’t know if he’ll make it.”
No one said anything to that.
Gazing around at the rest of us, Edward said, “We’re going to Chernobyl after nightfall. Preferably the witching hour. We’ll go in dark and silent. Jasper, you’ve studied Gunter’s notes, so I’m assuming you’re sure of where the fuck we’re headed. You still on that same line of thinking?”
“Yeah, there are two possible locations: where he worked and where he lived. They aren’t close to each other. I still say we keep to the plan and split into two teams. It’s gonna save us time and leave a team free to help the other, should we…run into trouble,” Jasper explained with a confident tone.
“I agree,” Edward grunted back with a single nod. “Good. Everyone get some rest. We’ll head out at twenty-two hundred.” He winked my way, wearing the sweet crooked grin I loved so much. “Ten o’clock, sweetness.”
“I can tell military time, smartass!” I laughed, shaking my head.
“Just checkin’,” he said with a chuckle. “We have a few hours, so eat, sleep, whatever, but be ready to roll out.”
“Sir!” we all answered.
Once everyone had left to go to their own rooms, Edward sat down on the edge of the bed and looked up at me. “He sounded okay, right?”
“Yeah, he picked up quick on what you wanted,” I told him, walking to him. He immediately pulled me between his legs, and I cupped his face. “He’s so strong, baby. Like his son,” I whispered.
Edward smiled a little. “I-I h-hope s-so,” he sighed forlornly. “H-He j-just n-needs t-to h-hold o-on a-a f-few m-more d-days.” He sneered, shaking his head back and forth slowly. “’Cause I swear to fucking God, I’ll kill every last motherfucker that laid a finger on him.”
Kissing his forehead, I said, “I know. And you won’t be alone. Now…I want us to eat something and then get some rest. I need you sharp, handsome.” I tapped his temple.
He nodded, grabbing the hotel phone. “Room service. We stay low,” he commanded.
Smiling at his tone, I said, “Sir,” with a salute, which made him finally crack into a wide grin before he started to order.
“Okay, this may be the creepiest fucking place we’ve ever come,” Mickey muttered over the com links. “Thanks, Eddie. Remind me not to let you plan my next vacation, yeah?”
Grinning, I nodded, taking a long, slow gaze over empty streets. “Right. I’ll remember that, wild child.”
Off in the distance, there were lights and life at the coal power plant that provided replacement power to the old plant and the surrounding inhabitants. The streets of Chernobyl, however, were a ghost town. Trees were dead sticks, weeds grew up between cracks in the sidewalk and curbs, planters were overgrown and dead, and evidence of an active population was everywhere, completely covered in dust, debris, and garbage. Everything had been left behind the day they’d been evacuated. Mickey was right; this place was fucking creepy. I half-expected goddamn zombies to pop up out of the ground at any point.
“Alec, check in,” I ordered quietly.
“We’re almost on-point. I have the lab in sight,” he replied. “No movement. Our path seems clear.”
“Ten-four,” I stated, turning to my team, which consisted of Mickey, Bella, and Felix. Alec was leading Eleazar, Emmett, Kurt, and Jasper to the other side of the abandoned town. “Eyes sharp. Watch your surroundings. If we’re not the only players in this fucked-up game, then it’s possible we’ll have company. Felix, you take our six. Mickey, tell us where we’re goin’.”
Mickey pulled up the tablet, and Bella looked over her shoulder. Alice had tapped into a satellite in order to give us an advantage. A thermal map of the entire area showed up on the small screen. The most concentrated images of color were outside the perimeter of where we were standing. Alec’s team could be seen working their way through the town, using buildings for cover.
With a swipe of a finger, the screen changed to a much more detailed map. Mickey pointed to the screen, saying, “We need to head this way. That apartment building straight ahead, see it? It’s the taller one about two blocks up.”
“Good. We go in quickly and silently. Watch your step – sidewalks and streets only, no grass,” I ordered, and then turned to Bella. “Sweetness, I’d like you right behind me.”
She nodded, taking the tablet from Mickey and stowing it away in her bag. She hadn’t spoken much since we’d arrived to Chernobyl. I could tell she was nervous. This type of mission wasn’t what she was used to, and I understood that, since she’d only been on a few of these with me.
“You okay?” I asked her, and she nodded. “Constant communication,” I reminded her. “You see something, speak up.”
“Got it,” she said, pointing. “Lead the way.”
The wind howled through broken windows as we stayed as close to the walls of buildings as we could. Everything was a dull, dusty gray, despite the fact that it was almost three o’clock in the morning. The air was stale and a touch chilly, though I wasn’t so sure that wasn’t due to the eerie silence, because more than once had the hairs on my arms stood on end. The place was simply soulless. Life had come to a complete and utter standstill. Toys and broken cribs lined what looked like a daycare. The amusement park stood dark and haunted, with bumper cars parked randomly in their fenced area, but the Ferris wheel held sentry over everything, all rusty and shit. Every step or two, we’d pass a gas mask, a child’s shoe, or even a gurney.
“Fuck,” Felix muttered as we took the next turn. “It’s like the end of the world here.”
“It was for some people,” Bella whispered back, sounding morose, but she was right.
“You know,” Mickey started with a deep sigh, “you grow up learning all this history shit, only to find out it wasn’t the truth. It makes you wonder just how many other major events throughout time were covered up.”
Felix chuckled. “Trust me, knowing the truth isn’t any better. It destroys your sense of wonder.”
“Poor fuckin’ Santa Claus,” Mickey chortled. “Don’t tell me shit, Felix. I never want to know if Elvis was really assassinated instead of overdosing, or if Area 51 really does have aliens underground in a research lab. I don’t wanna know how many presidents got head in the Oval Office besides fucking Clinton. Nope. I am blissfully ignorant.”
“Duly noted,” he replied. “But you’re right…Clinton wasn’t the only one.” He chuckled when she turned and punched his shoulder.
“Oh, hell,” Bella said with a small hint of a laugh.
I shook my head at the conversation, but kept a sweeping gaze out in front of me and to my sides. So far, all was dark and quiet. I held a hand up at the last corner we needed to take. My eyes raked up the apartment building. Every window was gone, fallen trees were blocking the front, and from my count, there were nine stories.
Before we crossed the street and went inside that motherfucker, I turned to Bella. “Talk to me, sweetness. Where are we going inside there?”
She pulled out the tablet, and instead of looking at one of the maps, she opened Gunter’s notes. “These missile casings are about as big as a loaf of bread…each. He notes that he made three, but who’s to say they’re still there? Anyway, something that size could either be stored in a wall, cabinet, or closet of his home, which is the top floor, or…it’s possible it’s in the basement storage. They weren’t active missiles, obviously, considering the uranium is elsewhere, but Jasper and I think they’d be stored in some sort of crate…just for simplicity and to hide them.”
That was the debate and the reason behind sending two teams separately into this desolate fucking hole. As detailed as Gunter was in his notes, he was iffy when it came to where he’d stored them – and that shit was most likely done on purpose. His lab or his home were the two places we’d decided to check. If they were anywhere near the reactor that had malfunctioned, then we were totally shit out of luck. Parts of that silo had been destroyed.
“Give me the satellite images,” I told her.
She flipped to the dark map, our glowing location shining brightly in the bottom left corner. She zoomed out, giving a wider view, but so far, we were all alone. And that shit bugged my ass. It was too fucking quiet. I sure as hell didn’t like it.
I sniffed once and nodded. “Now, show me Alec’s location,” I told her.
She dragged her finger over the screen pulling a cluster of colored forms into view. I could hear them over the earpieces, quietly giving each other direction. They were currently working their way through a large laboratory, the five of them using two-by-two formation behind when moving through each hallway and entering a room, with Emmett most likely tailing everyone else. They were also the only heat source in the area.
“Okay,” I grunted. “On me. We take the basement first and then make our way up top. Bella, you’re with me. Felix, Mickey, watch our six. In three, two, one…”
I gave a quick glance up the street and back to the building before taking off low and silent. My back was planted against the wall, and Bella knelt low, her weapon in front of her as she assessed inside the first floor lobby. There was no need to look for a damn door. We could step right in through what looked like it had been large plate glass windows.
Stepping into the building was like stepping back in time, but with everything completely vacant. There was garbage all over the floor, and once we were out of view of the street, flashlights were needed. Felix and Mickey found the stairs to the basement, taking the lead this time, leaving Bella and me to watch our backs. I still couldn’t shake the unease I had that we were all alone in there.
The basement was chaos. It obviously housed the water heater, electrical boxes, and gas sources, but there wasn’t anything down there that stood out as far as storage went. We shuffled around a few things, but came up empty-handed.
When we reached the landing of the first floor again, Alec’s voice piped in over the com link.
“Kid, we’re comin’ up empty here. This place has been stripped bare, so if they were here, then they’re gone now. What about you?” he asked.
“The basement was negative. We’re heading to the apartment now,” I told him, eyeing the stairs warily. They looked ragged and creaky, which made me worry about taking them nine flights up.
“Copy that. We’ll give another sweep, then we’ll me you at the van.”
“Roger that. Watch your asses out there, yeah?” I asked, grimacing when a step on the way to the second floor was split in two places. Without thinking, I simply picked Bella up and set her on the next one. When she gave me a smile, I shrugged. “Last thing we need is a broken fucking leg, sweetness.”
Someone snorted over the line at that, but Alec answered me affirmatively.
It felt like forty forevers to get to the top fucking floor. The smell of an old, closed-up building was starting to get to me. It was stale, musty, and filled with dust flying everywhere whenever we took a step.
“This one,” Bella stated, pointing to the door at the head of the steps. Using the muzzle of her gun, she pushed the door open slowly. The apartment was fucked up like the rest of the damn building. The furniture was broken or turned over, the signs of life long gone.
“Felix, Mickey, help me clear the place, and then we’ll give it a sweep.”
“Yup,” Mickey stated, stepping lightly and quickly into the living room, only to take the hallway.
Felix took the kitchen, and I gave the bedrooms a sweep. I shook my head at the sight of a little boy’s room. It made my heart hurt, made me miss my kids for a brief second, until I put two and two together. The little boy that had once slept in that room could quite possibly be the asshole holding my dad. And my anger rose to the surface.
“Fucker,” I muttered, shaking my head. “Bedrooms clear.”
“Clear,” Mickey stated.
“Clear.” Felix stepped into the hallway. “Okay, let’s tear this place apart.”
Bella started in the living room, pulling furniture away from walls, checking vents, and kicking rugs away to see if there were any loose floorboards. Mickey took the bedrooms and bathrooms, while Felix and I ransacked the kitchen.
There weren’t any false panels in any of the cabinets. The appliances were already pulled away from the walls, and the floor was that old-ass vinyl shit, so no loose floorboards there. Bella looked frustrated as hell in the living room, and Felix and I were just about to head down the hallway, when Mickey called out over the com links.
“Well, holy fuckin’ hell,” she gasped. “Bells, boys, I think we have ’em!”
All of us raced down the hall to find her in what I was now calling Vladimir’s room. She was bent over in the closet, pulling away a false panel. Carefully, she tugged on something, grunting a little.
“Move, wild child,” I ordered, nodding to Felix.
We stepped past her, and Felix whistled soft and low. “Well, look at that,” he said softly, shaking his head. “Military missile box and everything. This guy was special.”
Felix was completely right. It was military green, covered in dust, and the yellow Russian symbols were faded almost completely – if they hadn’t been removed on purpose from the get-go.
Between the two of us, we managed to pull it from its hiding place and set it down in the middle of the room. All of us just stared at it for a second. Mickey knelt down, grinning at the ancient padlock.
“Tsk, tsk,” she chided, shaking her head. “This will be too easy.”
She pulled her kit out from the side pocket of her cargos and removed two small, thin tools. In less than sixty seconds, she was tossing the padlock onto the floor. She lifted the lid, and I shook my head. Inside the crate, which was about the size of a large dog carrier, were three sleek, steel-colored missile casings. All three were disassembled, looking ready for arming.
“This fucker was way ahead of his time. Those can’t be any bigger than say…a Stinger missile,” I pointed out.
“No shit. The bad boy they dropped on Japan during WWII was as big as my bedroom,” Mickey stated. “These fuckers could be shipped any-damn-where…or smuggled.”
“That was probably his goal,” Felix surmised.
“I say we take them just like this, crate and all,” Bella suggested, looking up at me as she knelt beside Mickey.
“Yeah, definitely. Felix and I can carry it. You girls can handle keeping watch on the way back,” I stated. “Alec, mission accomplished. Meet us back at the van. Copy?”
“Ten-four,” Alec replied, giving his team the order to move out and to double-time it. “Go dark, go silent,” he stated.
The crate wasn’t exactly light, but it wasn’t too heavy to lug back down to the lobby. Before stepping foot back outside, flashlights were extinguished and we went dark. I didn’t want to take any chances. We backtracked the way we’d come, following the edges of the buildings and checking every corner before taking them blindly.
The van was parked a few miles outside of the main part of Chernobyl’s town center. We’d hidden it in a wooded area and had proceeded in on foot, scaling the fence. Emmett and Eleazar were waiting for us, their weapons at the ready, their eyes sharp. But when Felix and I reached them, they took the crate from us.
“Let’s get the fuck outta here, okay? This place is creeping me the fuck out,” Emmett grunted, taking the weight of the whole damn crate and lugging it to the open back of the utility van we’d bought with cash in Kiev. It was a rusty, old, faded bastard, but everyone fit inside, even with the crate.
I was just about to load everyone in and get the hell out of there, when Alec was suddenly shoved hard from the side of the van.
He fell with a grunt, but stayed on his knees, his hands behind his head, followed by Kurt and Jasper. His eyes were black and pissed the fuck off, but no one had a chance to say a word before we were surrounded by four motherfuckers with automatic rifles aimed our way.
Russian and pissed-off American English was yelled at everyone. I recognized one of the assholes from the security footage at my dad’s hotel, but my first priority was – and always would be – Bella. Carefully, my eyes locked on to the four guns aimed our way, I pulled her behind me.
Alec’s team already had been stripped of their weapons, but my team stared back unabashedly in a fucking standoff.
“Drop them!” the guy with the beard ordered.
“Not gonna fucking happen,” I snapped back, shaking my head.
He aimed his weapon toward the back of Alec’s head, and my old friend’s face never even flinched. He gazed up at me unwavering as he just barely shook his head to tell me not to give in.
Mickey, Bella, and Felix all still had their weapons trained on the men, along with Eleazar and Emmett. The problem was they had gotten the drop on us, and they were in a position to kill the three men kneeling in front of me.
My nostrils flared in pure fucking hatred. Internally, I was vowing to kill every last of these assholes before I went home. I was starting to make a mental list.
“Drop them,” I ordered, glancing at my crew on my left and right. “Put ’em down.”
I tossed my Glock to the ground, smirking when it landed between me and Alec. Everyone else did the same.
The guy with the beard seemed to be in charge, and he held out his hand. “Keys to the van.”
“Got me,” Emmett taunted, though his face was lethal at the moment. “I must’ve lost them. Jazz, you got ’em?”
“Nah, I thought Alec was driving,” Jasper stated, and even with a gun pointed to his head, he wasn’t going down easy.
“Not me,” Alec said, giving a look not to me, but just behind me. “I was pretty sure Bellissima had the keys in that backpack of hers.”
“Well, then these assholes are fucking outta luck,” I warned. “’Cause if you touch her, I’ll kill you all.”
I felt Bella move closer to me. Beard Guy snatched up Kurt by his hair, pointing a gun to his head.
“Keys, or this one’s brains meet the side of this truck,” he ordered, shrugging a shoulder. “Your call.”
“Fuck,” I hissed to myself, my hands opening and closing. I had the goddamn keys, but I didn’t want our asses to not only lose what we’d come here for, and I also didn’t need us fucking stranded in this deserted hell hole.
Bella’s hand met my back, and I was just about to give in, when the guy holding the gun to Jasper’s head collapsed to the ground, his head practically gone. And before I could blink, two more guys met the same fate, leaving Beard Guy all alone.
“Sniper!” Mickey yelled, pulling Bella. “Down!”
Emmett, not one to miss his chance, dove for the guy, tugging Kurt out of the way. Just as he reached for the Beard Guy’s weapon, the man’s head was split wide open.
“Who the fuck?” Jasper started to ask, but I interrupted him.
“I figured we’d get company eventually. Stash those bodies in the woods. Move it!” I commanded, not giving a fuck who followed that order. I just wanted it fucking done. “The birds and animals and shit can have these bastards.”
“The shots came from that ridge,” Jasper muttered to me while Emmett and Felix dumped the first two bodies a few feet into the woods.
“I know,” I replied, turning to Bella. “You and Mick get in the van and stay fucking low.”
“Okay,” my girl replied, pulling Mickey behind her.
Turning back to Jasper, I said, “Watch that area. If anyone approaches, I want answers. Shoot to maim.”
“Copy that,” Jasper drawled, stepping away from the van and readying his weapon. Just as the last body was moved, he stated, “Ed? We don’t have to shoot. The fucker is surrendering. Look.”
My head spun to the direction he was glaring. The man who was walking our way was obviously older, his sniper rifle held in the air as he walked with a slight limp.
“Which one of you is Edward Cullen?” the guy asked, stepping into the middle of eight weapons trained on him, which included the two girls from the open back doors of the van.
“Motherfucker.” I sighed wearily. “I’m tired of everyone knowing my goddamn name,” I snarled, pulling out my Glock and walking straight to the asshole…who started to chuckle.
“You must Carlisle’s son,” he stated through his light laugh. “Don’t kill me. I’m here to help you.”
“And just who the fuck are you?” I sneered in his face, flipping the safety off my gun. “And why shouldn’t I just pull the trigger right now?”
He grinned. “Because your dad would be pissed. I’m Boris Zukov.”


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