Sunday, December 1, 2013 | By: Drotuno

Fire & Ice Chapter 13 & Pics

Chapter 13
“Sweetness, gimme your leg,” Edward ordered, patting the bumper of the Humvee.
I set my boot where he’d indicated, and he pulled a large knife out of a duffle bag. He grabbed my ankle, securing the knife in its sheath to the inside of my calf, and then gave my thigh a squeeze before putting my foot back down on the ground.
“C’mere,” he murmured, checking my Kevlar vest, the Sig, and my thigh holster with my nine mil. He smiled a little, tapping the bill of my cap. “I need you to stick with Mickey,” he told me reaching for the face paint, but he merely grinned when I shot it a foul look. “Tough, baby. You’re wearing it. You’ll put it on after the first phase, okay?”
We’d landed on the other side of the hill from the Mayak mine a couple of hours after sunset. Alec’s team pulled in just about twenty minutes later. My eyes drifted over to where Kurt was setting up a portable info station. He was going to sit in the Humvee to keep us as connected as possible. Boris and Jasper had already started their trek up the hill to station themselves as invisible as possible, but still be able to see the entire Mayak area, including the apartment housing. Alec, Felix, and Emmett were already scoping out the front gates.

Edward’s eyes were soft green as he softly instructed me how to apply the face paint, lightly dragging his fingers down my face, almost at an angle. Getting me ready seemed to be a way of centering himself, and I was okay with that.
“You just want to take the shine off your face, sweetness,” he said, setting the small tube down on the hood of the truck.
I nodded, but changed the subject. “Are you going in on the ground with us?” I asked him in a whisper. When we’d landed, he’d started to question whether he was taking to the air or not, at least not right away.
“I may have to. From what the chopper’s camera caught on the way over, it looks like there’s at least two fifty cals on the roofs of those apartments. It also shows one to two men manning them. If Jasper and Boris can take those men out first, then I could fly, giving you guys coverage through the front gates,” he explained.
“But?” I asked, knowing he always thought of both sides.
“But…” he continued as he went through another check of my gear just to keep busy. “But…if we go in on the ground in teams of two, except for Emmett – he’d be alone – then we could come in from every single angle, using Boris and Jasper as cover. I want to see where they set up, if they can cover that entire fenced area, not to mention the mine entrance.”
He glanced up when footsteps approached, but then gazed out over the small village. “I’d like to cause the least amount of damage I can to this place. People live here, work here. My only concern is the assholes guarding the place.”
“Well, then, I think I have an idea,” Alec piped up, but he shot me a wink. “Lookin’ good, Bellisima.”
I rolled my eyes, but waited for him to keep going.
“Check this out,” he said, pulling out a map and rolling it open on the ground. “Everyone take a knee, and Jazz…you and Boris listen in as you get settled.” The whole team gathered around the map as he spread it out in the dirt.
“Copy that,” Jasper answered over our earpieces.
“This place is a rectangle. The four apartment buildings are on the east side. The processing plant, mine entrance, and offices are on the west side. The front gates are closer to the plant than the living spaces. You’ve got two men at the gate, two guards pacing the fence-line on every side at all times – back and forth. When our snipers are in place, we’ll know exactly how many are on the roofs.” He tapped the map. “Our biggest concern will be getting inside that mine entrance. It’ll be blind; we’d essentially need to take out every asshole out there silently before we even approach it. According to the GPS trackers on our uranium, they took it straight inside that fucking mine.”
He stood up straight. “Kid, I don’t think flying will work. We’d need you on the ground running things.” He gripped my shoulder. “When Stefan arrives, then absolutely, but on this…no.”
Edward rubbed his chin and nodded. “Okay,” he agreed, tugging off his cap and scrubbing a hand through his hair as he studied the map intensely. “Then we need to get moving, but we’ll wait on Boris and Jasper,” he stated, standing up and giving us all the once-over. “Emmett, you’re to shadow the girls to the front gates. They’re the best thing to send in through the front fucking door.”
Mickey and I grinned, leaning next to each other on the Humvee. He was using the “pretty damsel in distress” type of decoy, which meant we’d need to go in with our weapons hidden and our faces clean…at least at first.
“You three aren’t to go anywhere near that front gate until I say so. Am I clear?” he added, waiting until we acknowledged him before going on. He knelt by the map again. “El, you’re with me. We’re going in the east section of fence. We’ll then take the south fence, taking cover at this apartment building, the last one before the mine entrance. Alec, I need you to take the north fence-line.” Edward glanced up at Felix. “Felix, you still able to do this?”
“Yeah, Ed, just tell me what you need.”
Edward nodded. “Okay. You’ll be covered by Boris along the west side, which is the tougher side, considering it’s the closest to the processing plant and the mine’s entrance. We’ll go in as soon as Jasper clears the apartment rooftops of the gunners and Boris clears the guard along the back and roof of the plant. Everybody with me so far?”
“Sir,” we called back.
He glanced down at his watch. “Jasper, Boris, what’s your status?”
“I’m in position,” Jasper replied back. “Give Boris another few minutes.”
“Copy that,” Edward grunted, standing up from the map. “Normally, I’d wait a few more hours, but we haven’t got the time. I want that fucking uranium in my possession when that asshole calls me for a trade.” He glanced at his watch again. “And we’ll be pushing it as it is. If they hold true, then they’ll call in a few hours. I wanna be at the ready.”
“Edward, I’m in position,” Boris called over the com link.
“Ten-four,” he replied, spinning to Kurt. “Kurt, I want you in my ear, with Alice on the satellite. I wanna hear every-fucking-thing.”
“Already on it,” he answered. “You’ve got guns on the roof of the apartment buildings east and west. The two in the middle are clear.”
“Jasper?” Edward asked.
“That’s a big ten-four, Ed. And I have the solution to the problem already. Tell me when we’re a go for take-down,” he answered back instantly.
Edward walked to me, reaching behind me for the face paint on the hood of the Humvee. With quick, jagged swipes at his face, he concealed himself, using the window as a mirror. And it seemed with every dark green, black, and brown smear, his eyes became harder, harsher, cold. I watched in complete fascination as my husband slowly went away and the mercenary I’d met so long ago emerged. His jaw flexed, his hands precise as he strapped on his Glock, knife, and Kevlar vest. He adjusted his Sig so that it was strapped across his strong back, and finally, he filled his cargos with clips and ammo.
“Everyone, on me. Get into your positions. Jasper, you’ll go on my word,” he ordered, but stopped me before we all separated. “Sweetness, I’m not fucking kidding. I wanna hear you, and you’ll only go on my say. I need you sharp. Got me?”
I wasn’t talking to my sweet, stuttering Edward. I was talking to the man leading this mission.
“That goes for you, too, you know,” I sassed back, reaching up to cover up a spot he’d missed with the face paint.
My heart hurt a little when he didn’t joke back, but I understood it. He needed to shut himself down for this. It was so fucking important that we get this uranium back in our hands, to take George Stefan out of the picture, and clear this area of his men so that we could truly concentrate on getting Carlisle back.
“Be safe, Edward,” I muttered, turning to pick up the small duffle bag I was carrying. I pulled it on over my head, spinning it to my back. “Tell us when we’re to go in.”
Mickey was waiting patiently for me with Emmett a few feet ahead. I started toward them, but was stopped with a strong chest in my back and a soft voice in my ear.
“Bella, you stay safe, too. Understand me? I can’t lose you, so fuck Plan B. I need you back, but I also need you on this mission. You tread so fucking carefully, am I clear?” he breathed heavily into my ear.
“Yes,” I whispered back, but the feel of him was gone. When I turned to look, he was already double-timing it with Eleazar toward the east end of the compound.
I joined Emmett and Mickey, both of whom were eyeing me worriedly, but I nodded once. “Let’s do this.”
Emmett had already scoped out a trail for us through the brush. The area was hilly and scarce of any real cover, except for a few scroungy-looking bushes, but we used them nonetheless, making our way down to a rocky point just outside the front gates. We all knelt down, and Mickey and I pulled out our binoculars to watch Jasper and Boris in action. The com links in our ears were filled with constant, yet very quiet communication.
Through the night-vision binoculars, I saw Felix creep into place on the left-hand side of the compound. On my right, if I didn’t know what I was looking for, I would’ve never seen Edward and Eleazar’s approach to the east side of the fence line. It was Alec I wouldn’t be able to see, though I heard when he called to Edward that he was on point.
My head tilted, taking in the two apartment buildings.
“J, you’re clear to kick off this football game,” Edward ordered softly. “You have the better eyes, so keep it silent, keep it secret.”
Jasper’s reply was soft, controlled. “Starting with the building closest to you, Ed. You’ve got eyes scanning the area. C’mon, motherfucker, turn around…” he mumbled.
Mickey and I both trained our binoculars toward the farthest building’s rooftop. There was a large gun positioned to where it was aimed off the corner of the building. From that point, they could essentially cover most of the southern fence and the eastern corner. One guard kept a slow pace around the edge of the rooftop, while the other one hovered near the gun. They weren’t paying attention, and it would work in our favor.
“Punter’s got the ball,” Jasper sang in warning.
The very second the pacing guard turned his corner, putting his back to his partner, the man at the gun fell silently. Before the walking guard could react, he collapsed into a heap as well.
“It’s a fair catch. Your section is clear, Ed,” Jasper stated. “Watch those guards along the fence.”
Mickey and I seemed to move in sync to where Edward and El would be going in. Two men walked the fence in opposite directions, passing each other almost in the middle.
“The easiest way to take them out would be once they pass each other,” Mickey muttered, not really suggesting anything, but most likely thinking out loud.
From my position, I could barely make out Edward’s form as he rushed to the fence, ducking behind a bush. With quick movements, he snipped the links of the chainlink to give himself an opening. The best part was the hesitation the guard closest to Eleazar had when he stopped to light himself a cigarette. That gave everyone their chance to move. Eleazar waited until Edward’s guard turned around before wrapping a hand around his target’s mouth and twisting hard. In the blink of an eye, the body was gone, hidden away, as was Eleazar as he waited for Edward.
Edward’s part would be a little trickier, considering he had to move fast when his target turned around. He slipped silently through his hole in the fence, waiting, unmoving, for the guard to spin. But the guy stopped just on the other side of the bush in which Edward was hiding to take a leak.
“Aw hell,” Mickey snorted, shaking her head. “Don’t let him shake it more than twice, pretty boy.”
Emmett shook with his silent laughter next to me, but Edward couldn’t say shit at the moment. The guard finally finished, lit a cigarette, and turned. I was pretty damn certain he didn’t even have a chance to notice his partner had vanished, because he was in Edward’s grip, dragged to the back of the closest apartment building, and disposed of before he could even take his second step.
It was humbling to watch Edward work, and slightly terrifying, too. He was lithe, precise, confident, and…heaven help me…sexy as he got himself into the position to take the guards along the front fence, which would clear the way for Mickey, Emmett, and me.
“Edward and El have cleared their area, Jasper,” I advised. “Move on to the next gun.”
The next gunner position would clear Alec to move in from the back part of the compound. Just like the first building, there were two guards – one walking around the edge of the roof, and the other positioned at the gun. The latter this time was actually sitting behind the fifty cal. And that would make things easier on Jasper.
It didn’t take him long to clear that roof. Neither guard made a sound as they were taken down.
“Okay, boys,” Jasper sang low. “Your field is clear. Take down the right and left tackles, and Boris, clear the endzone.”
At the mention of Boris, Emmett asked for Mickey’s binoculars, and the two of us shifted just a little in order to keep an eye on Felix’s progress, which was practically invisible in the shadows of the processing plant. His target was alone, though there was one on the roof.
Boris’s voice was soft over the com link. “He’s too close to the edge. If I shoot, he’ll fall, which will alert your target.”
“Copy that, Boris,” Felix replied. “Do what you need. I’ll cover the rest.”
Felix waited until the rooftop guard turned just slightly at the same time the fence-line target turned around. With stealthy moves, he was over the fence and hidden in the shadows behind a garbage bin. The pacing target never saw him, but he did spin around when the sound of a sickening thud caught his attention. The rooftop guard fell, but as soon as the pacing guard walked just past Felix to investigate, he, too, vanished out of my sightline. However, Felix did something none of us were expecting; he interrogated his guard.
“You speak English?” he asked, and he must’ve gotten a positive response, because he continued in English. “Where is it? The crate that arrived today? Tell me and I won’t cut out your eyes.”
Emmett grinned evilly, but we waited for an answer while holding our breaths.
“I don’t know,” the guy grunted.
“Bullshit. Try again,” Felix growled low, and I winced at the sound of the guy’s obvious pain over the line. “Where is it?”
“All right, all right! Inside the tunnel…first right, then left…you won’t get past the guards,” the man wheezed.
“I got past you, didn’t I?” Felix muttered. “Now, where are they holding the prisoner?”
“What prisoner? I don’t know about any prisoner!”
Felix chuckled. “You sure about that?”
“I swear!”
“Aw, c’mon now. Think, asshole. There’s got to be some talk. Extra security somewhere else or talk of a trade… Who do you answer to?” he rattled off all at once it seemed.
“Stefan. I answer to Stefan. But I swear, I don’t know about a prisoner,” the guard replied frantically.
“Leave it, Felix,” Edward ordered softly over the earpieces. “Shut him up.”
Felix chuckled, and it was chillingly wicked. I merely heard a muted grunt before he sighed, “Fine, Ed. The west end is clear.”
“Roger that,” Edward replied. “So is the south fence line. Em, I want you hidden when the girls approach the front gates. You’re clear to go.”
My binoculars scanned the front for movement, but I saw nothing. Hell, I couldn’t even find my husband, but that didn’t surprise me at all.
Emmett turned to us. “Gimme your shit,” he stated, taking our automatic rifles from us. We were going to walk up to the front gates. He slung them over his shoulder, but pointed to our legs. “Those, too. Stash those nine mils.”
We ripped the thigh holsters off, and I tucked my gun into my waistband at the small of my back, making sure that my jacket covered it while Mickey did the same. We were both wearing baseball caps with our hair pulled through the back, but we took those off, too, putting them in the duffle bag I wasn’t giving up.
I turned to Mickey. “Ready?”
She grinned, wrapping an arm around my shoulders. “Hell, yes. What’cha think? Poor lost American tourist?”
Edward snorted over the line. “Ladies, it’s all on you. If we can quietly take out the guards, Felix and Alec will replace them as decoys for when our guest arrives. Everyone else will fall in to clear the mine tunnel. Copy?”
“Sir,” we all stated.
“Edward, we’re going in. Watch our backs,” I stated, following Mickey to the edge of the road so it would look like we were lost or broken down, looking for assistance.
Edward grunted derisively. “Sweetness, I always watch your back.”
Mickey and I laughed softly, stepping out onto the road leading to the front gates of the Mayak mine.
With one last check of my gun at my back, I said, “Copy that,” and started walking.
My hands balled up into fists as I watched my wife through the NVG goggles. They were definitely coming in handy on this mission. With Kurt’s and Alice’s soft advice in our ears, we definitely had the advantage. But none of that fucking mattered when my girl was walking into the last section of guarded fence – the front gate.
There were two motherfuckers pacing the area, both armed with both handguns and rifles, though the latter were leaning up against the guard shack.
I crept low and silent, using the shadows of the closest building and the trees nearby, in order to get closer to the gate. My goal was the guard shack. Using silent hand signals, I told El where I was going and ordered him to make his way toward the front of the mine entrance. I caught sight of Alec, holding his position at the end of the little street.
“Alec, you’re clear. Make your way toward the west side of the guard gate,” I muttered quietly over the com link. “Get ready to take these assholes’ positions.”
“Copy that.”
I flattened myself behind a low wall, my eyes trained on the front gates. Again, my hands balled up into fists. There was an instinct to protect Bella, but I knew what she was truly capable of, what she could do. She was beautiful…and deadly. And she used both of those traits to get the fucking job done. As she and Mickey walked casually up to the gate, the first guard stopped them, but I could already see that the girls’ mere appearance had him hook, line, and fucking sinker.
I chuckled low, shaking my head a little. “Fuckers won’t stand a chance,” I murmured, mainly to myself, but Jasper laughed softly.
“Nope. You should see this asshole’s face. Love at fucking first sight,” he sang in a whisper. “I’d be willing to bet he’s already imagining the both of them…together.
Scowling at the thought, I pushed my jealousy aside. I wasn’t fucking stupid. I saw how men looked at Bella…and Mickey, for that matter…no matter where the fuck we went.
“Shut it,” Bella hissed, but smiled when they finally were close enough to speak to the guy.
Irina and Kurt had been kind enough to teach the girls a few choice phrases in Russian before we left the safe house. It was simple shit, phrases that would make them sound lost, naïve, and helpless, not to mention phrases of control and command. Those two girls were anything but helpless.
Grinning, I took advantage of the fact that now both guards had their attention solely on the pretty girls asking for directions, help, or a phone to use. Plastering my back against the hedge, I scanned the area for Emmett. He was right where he needed to be – invisible and silent, lying low just on the other side of the road. He’d never been seen because the girls had all the attention on them. That was fucking perfect.
“Em, can you move closer?” I asked over the com link.
“I can. What’cha thinking?”
“Stand by,” I muttered, giving the area a scan.
There was movement by the entrance of the mine, but far enough away that it didn’t matter. I noted a couple of wretched-looking cameras on the upper portion of the apartment building I was next to, and a few lights were on, but otherwise, the place was quiet. No movement to my right, which was the way I’d come in, and no movement on the other side of the guard gate on my left, except for Felix, who was patiently waiting in position.
The fact that no one would’ve assumed that I had women on my team made me smirk to myself. I’d noticed that shit since the beginning of this whole goddamn operation. These assholes assumed we were all men, and they’d never even considered what information I had at my very fingertips. The guards at the gate never suspected a thing when they led the girls to the guard shack. Sexist bastards. They were about to learn a very fucking harsh lesson when it came to trusting a beautiful face.
“The girls are about to finish this shit,” Jasper noted softly.
“You keep them in your sight, but I’d rather not have the sound of breaking glass, J,” I advised, eyeing the large windows of the tiny building. “We’ve been silent up ’til now.”
“Roger that,” he concurred. “I have the solution should they need it.”
“They aren’t gonna need it,” Emmett piped up with a touch of amusement to his tone.
Peeking out around the hedge, I practically held my breath as I watched Mickey and my wife step inside the guard shack. If shit went wrong, they’d be trapped, but I had faith in the two of them.
Mickey grinned sweetly, picking up the receiver on the phone. Bella shuffled nervously – a complete and total act on her part – lingering at the door. Neither girl looked like they were in their thirties. Their height, young-looking faces, and slight figures placed them in what I’d heard men guess was mid-twenties. They also didn’t look like they could kill a man, but as Bella slowly reached for her weapon at the small of her back, I braced myself.
“Bella, don’t use that gun,” I warned her.
“I got this, pretty boy,” Mickey stated, pretending like she was making a phone call. “Relax.”
I merely grunted in disbelief, but watched the girls take total control. Bella wrapped her hand around the grip of her gun, stepping silently up behind the man closest to her, who happened to also be the man at the back of the small room.
The click-click-click was soft over the com link, barely heard, but I could well imagine how loud it was in that shack, because the guard jumped a little when he realized he had a weapon pointed straight to his temple.
“On your knees,” Bella instructed in Russian, and he obeyed instantly. She glared at the other guard, saying, “Move, and he dies.”
Mickey hung up the phone and pulled out her own weapon, spinning a silencer on the end of her gun. When she was finished, she jerked her chin to the still-standing guard, telling him to kneel.
“Poor guys, they look heartbroken,” Jasper teased over the line as Bella added a silencer to her own weapon.
The two men were stripped of their weapons and radios. Their eyes were wide with fear, and had they behaved themselves, I would’ve bet the girls would’ve simply bound and gagged them, leaving them in the shack, but they didn’t fucking think. The guard closest to Bella shifted, assuming he could out-maneuver her with his size. He failed spectacularly. She not only countered his touch, but the sound of his breaking wrist echoed over the com link, and she never even blinked, pulling the trigger twice.
His partner met the same fate from the end of Mickey’s gun. I let out a breath of relief that we’d successfully accomplished clearing the entire perimeter, including the guns on the rooftops, but Alice’s voice was sharp in my ear.
“Hoshit, hoshit, hoshit! Edward, don’t fucking move! You’ve got what looks like replacement guards approaching the front gates,” she advised frantically. “Two of them. Everyone, freeze.”
“Talk to me, pixie,” I murmured as quietly as I could, pulling out my Glock. “Coming my way?”
“Yes, you’ll have company in less than fifteen seconds on your lefthand side. I have two warm bodies in motion. I can’t tell with the infrared if they’re armed. I’m sorry,” she stated worriedly.
“They are,” Emmett added. “Armed, but not in their hands. Edward, get low. You can grab them in three, two…one.”
From my view from behind the hedge, I heard the men talking softly to one another, but I waited until they’d stepped past me before I reached out and grabbed the closest man from behind, slapping my hand over his mouth. I pointed my gun at his partner, shaking my head for him to stay quiet.
“He’s twitchy, Ed,” Jasper warned. “I’ve got him; I’ve got him.”
“Take it,” I ordered, wrenching my hand hard to the left, snapping my target’s neck at the same time Jasper took his shot. A quick glance around told me no one had heard a thing. “Our time is closing in on us, guys. We need that mine cleared…right fucking now,” I ordered, stashing the two bodies behind the hedge.
“Copy that,” a few of them answered.
“Everyone knows where they’re going. Get to it. Now,” I snapped, running low to the edge of the building, only to see Alec and Felix take the front gate guards’ positions. From a distance, there was no way to tell they weren’t George Stefan’s men. Bella and Mickey closed the guard shack door, hiding their targets’ bodies, and joined me at the side of the building.
“El, what’cha see?” I asked, telling the girls to stay low, stay still.
Though, I couldn’t resist pulling my girl close just to feel her, make sure she was okay. She smiled and nodded, pulling her baseball cap back on with her ponytail through the back as Mickey did the same. I could see that they’d quickly applied the face paint to their faces for this next part. The streets were dark, and we’d need to stick to the shadows, so concealment was a fucking must.
“I’ve got four guards at the mine entrance and a blind spot just inside,” he advised. “I could use an eye in the sky for this.”
“I’ve got you,” Boris stated. “Give me ten seconds. I’m moving in.”
“Ed, you’re clear to close in,” Eleazar said softly.
“Roger that,” I replied, checking to see Emmett move quick and low to a spot across the street. “Em, keep to that point. Wait for my signal.”
Sticking to the shadows, the girls and I worked our way to El’s location. He was crouched behind a garbage bin when we joined him.
“Check this,” he whispered, pointing toward the gaping entrance of the mine. “You’ve got two on this side, two on the opposite side, and if you look closely, there’s movement behind that giant fucking machine just inside. Any damn sound, and we’re gonna have company.”
“And I’d be willing to bet…lots of it,” I murmured back, scanning the inside of the mine. El was right; there was movement, but how many were in there was the fucking question. “Boris, what’s your location?”
“I’m making my way up the stairs to the roof of the building behind you.”
“Excellent,” El whispered, looking up behind us, only to shoot a glance back at the mine. “If we move to the right and Emmett and the girls take the left, we could have Boris clear these guards out.” He gestured with his hand, pointing toward the two areas.
I nodded. There was enough cover on either side to hide, but Boris would need to be fast and not fucking miss.
“I’m in position,” Boris advised. “I have all targets in sight.”
“Copy that. Can you get them all without stopping?” I asked.
“On my mark, Boris. No sooner. Emmett, move in closer,” I ordered, turning to the girls. “On my command, we’re going to let Boris take out these guards, but we need to move them the very fucking second they’re down. Got me?” Hearing affirmative replies, I nodded. “The second they’re down, we move in fast and quiet.”
“Got it,” Bella stated in a whisper.
She was so fucking cute, all face painted and sharp as a fucking tack. It was all I could do not to kiss the shit out of her right there.
“What?” she asked, her brow wrinkling.
Grinning, I shook my head. “Nothing. Go get ’em, sweetness.”
“’Kay,” she replied, following Mickey back a bit the way we’d come, only to shoot across the street to join Emmett.
I jerked my chin to Eleazar, following him the same way, only to the opposite side of the mine entrance. We ducked behind a piece of equipment, eyeing our targets.
“Fucking perfect,” I barely breathed, glancing across to Emmett’s location. “Boris, on my mark, take out the two guards at the back as quickly as you can. Emmett, catch yours before he falls.”
“Roger that,” Emmett answered.
I moved into position quietly behind my target, holding up my hands. With a nod of my head, the shot was dead-on. The guard’s head snapped back, and he slowly fell right into my awaiting hands. Gripping him, I dragged him off, stashing him behind the large metal machine with Eleazar. My eyes darted to the other side of the mine, pleased that Emmett had done the exact same thing. And I was glad to see that he’d given the girls back their Sigs.
“Again,” I ordered over the com link as quietly as I could. We all knew this hit didn’t need catching. There was enough noise inside the mine to cover the sound of a body hitting the dirt ground.
The guards collapsed within nanoseconds of each other. Eleazar dragged that one out of the way as Emmett and Mickey did the same on the other side.
“Damn good shootin’, Boris,” I praised him. “Get down from where you are. Cover this mine opening.”
“Copy,” he replied.
“Alice, any video inside this thing?” I asked over the com link.
“No, none. You’ll be on your own once inside. I can’t use the infrared there. Too much…well, just shit inside – equipment, activity, heat sources, and electronics. I do have a map of the tunnels.”
“Show me,” I ordered, pulling out my phone and hiding behind the metal machine. I lowered the brightness on the screen as Alice sent the tunnel map my way. I showed Eleazar. “That asshole that Felix interrogated said here, then here… Think we can trust it?”
“We don’t have a choice, really. At least it’s something to go on. Though, the GPS trackers seem to say the same. Ready?”
“Yeah. My team, move inside to the first point. Go quietly,” I ordered, plastering my back against the hard concrete wall just outside the mine entrance. Eleazar was right beside me. With a peek inside, I whispered, “Move, move, move.”
The machine inside the tunnel was enormous, looking like some twisted alien torture device. The tires were huge, but the front of the damn thing was round, with worn-down spikes all over it. It was simply a machine created to dig deep into the earth. It smelled of gasoline, oil, and old dirt. But we all stopped on the other side of it. Through the cab, I could see a couple of men at an old folding table. They were talking, drinking what looked to be coffee, and playing a few hands of cards. I counted four of the bastards.
When one man stood up, he called loudly. “Milkovich!” When he didn’t get the answer from outside the mine entrance, he started our way.
“Oh hell,” El murmured. “This will end…loudly.”
I sighed, glancing around at my team. “Fuck it. Unleash hell. Kill ’em all,” I ordered, spinning my rifle to my front. “Boris, stay sharp.”
I didn’t hear his reply, because Emmett snapped into action. With a loud, engaging sound of his weapon, he stepped from behind the tunneling machine. The man that was walking our way was mowed down in a hail of fire. The men at the card table practically tripped over themselves to step into action, but we were faster…and smarter. The girls dove under the machine, using the tires as cover, Eleazar took the right side of the damn thing, while Emmett mowed up the middle. I climbed up to the cab, shooting through the open windows.
The original four men were annihilated, but our gunfire drew in several more guards. Four more fell to the floor before I called for everyone to move in. At the end of the tunnel, I gave signals to take a two-by-two formation, with Emmett watching our six. The girls stuck together, and Eleazar and I took the lead, making the first right down the tunnel.
The first few yards were empty, our thick surrounding walls giving off the dense feeling of claustrophobia. The lights were dim, the dirt floor smooth from being used quite often. The smell was simply earth, sweat, and something kind of metallic. I was beginning to think we’d taken out all the damn guards, because no one interrupted our path down the long tunnel. The left we needed to take was several yards ahead of us, but suddenly, men filled the tunnel.
“We’ve got company,” I stated, opening fire at the end of the dirt corridor. I kept pushing my way forward, pulling the trigger at any movement in front of me. I had no fucking cover, so I had no choice but to shoot to kill.
The first tunnel on the left looked more like an old-ass office hallway, and I jumped over several fallen guards to the opposite side, leaving the closest wall for the girls. Sneaking a glimpse around the corner, I jerked a chin, telling them all was clear and going in.
“Fuck,” I sighed, shaking my head when there were several doors along that hallway. “Keep your eyes fucking peeled. That crate is…” I dragged out the word, pulling my phone up. “Alice…uranium GPS tracker. Is it still transmitting?”
“Yes, yes, yes,” she replied instantly. “Up ahead, looks like a few yards from your location.”
“Of course it is, which would put it at the end of this motherfucking hallway,” I groaned. “Any movement on its camera?”
“Nope. You’re clear.”
“Roger that.”
“Check each room, but let’s do this,” I ordered.
The hallway wasn’t that long, and each room was checked as we made our way down the hall. It seemed like we’d emptied out our enemies. The last room was a storage room of sorts. Several crates were stacked all over the place, but I recognized our particular crate right inside, like they’d just stashed it.
Emmett positioned himself just inside the door as Bella, Mickey, and Eleazar checked out the crate. The lead-lined containers that held our uranium were still intact, and they got it ready to move.
Just as we started for the door, it burst open. The crate was forgotten and five rifles engaged.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Emmett yelled.
The haze of adrenaline cleared just a little for me to be able to see that it was a small woman standing there all scared to fucking death. She started rambling, sobbing, and shaking. And I didn’t understand a word of what she was saying.
El lowered his weapon, walking to her slowly. He spoke softly but quickly, turning to look at me.
“This is Maslov’s wife.”
Mickey and Bella lowered their weapons, but Emmett held steady at the door.
“Well, what’s she saying?” Bella asked, her eyes warming at the poor woman.
“She’s saying that Maslov is alive, that he told her to watch for us,” he translated, raising an eyebrow at me in disbelief. “She said she was to support anyone taking out…killing…Stefan’s men…that Carlisle Cullen would free this little village.”
I snorted, rolling my eyes and shaking my head. “Fine, fine, but what’s she want?”
He spoke to her a little, turning back to me. “To help. She’s gonna show us a better way out of here.”
“Uh, no she’s not,” I stated roughly. “No fucking way. I’m not trusting this…this…”
Mickey and Bella spun around to glare at me, their faces cold.
“Um…woman,” I finished carefully.
Bella snorted into a rough laugh, raising an eyebrow my way when I shrugged, before turning to Eleazar. She pulled out her phone, asking, “Which way was she suggesting?”
Eleazar talked with the woman some more, showing her our map. He straightened up, looking my way. “This tunnel out here,” he stated, jerking a thumb toward the door. “It leads to another tunnel that’s unused. It’s been sealed off, but it looks like it empties out just outside the gate.”
My eyebrows shot up at that. “Okay, good to know, but I’m not leaving this place ’til Stefan’s out of the fucking picture. Ask her where the best location is to set up shop for a bit.”
Eleazar nodded in agreement, doing as I asked. “She says her husband’s office.”
I threw my hands up, saying, “Fine. Fucking perfect. Lead the damn way.”
Emmett came to me, grabbing the other side of the crate as we followed the girls and Eleazar.
“You sure about this?” he asked softly, lifting his end of the crate.
“Nope,” I replied, shrugging a shoulder. “But at least we’ll be able to hear from Alec and Felix when we get company. And we’ll have some privacy for when that call comes in.”
“Ten-four,” he replied.
We made our way down the hall to a small stairwell and then up one flight of stairs to the last door. Mrs. Maslov pushed open the door. It was, indeed, an office, and from what I could tell, she was being honest. There were a few pictures on the desk of her and Sergei Maslov. A few photos of kids were next to them. Emmett and I set the crate down, and he spun to lock the door.
“Leave the lights off,” I ordered, walking to the window that overlooked not only the entire village, but the front gates as well. “Felix, Alec, keep me posted for visitors,” I ordered.
“Roger that,” Alec replied.
“Kurt, Alice,” I called over the com link. “The very second this phone fucking rings, I want you to do your best to trace it.”
“I’m already on it, Edward,” Alice piped up. “I’ve had a computer set up just for that.”
“Thanks,” I sighed, turning to the people in the room. “Ask her how many men Stefan has stationed here. We’ve obviously removed a majority of them.”
Eleazar translated the question for me to Mrs. Maslov. She shook her head, but answered him with a pretty sincere look on her face.
“She says that there’s always about ten inside this area of the mine. The gate usually has two or four, depending on the time of day. And she accounted for all the assholes along the fences. She said if you want to find the guards not on duty, you’ll want to check the first floor apartments in the first building outside. Stefan removed the families that were living there to give his men a place to stay.
“Well, wasn’t that fucking sweet of him?” I asked sarcastically, turning to Emmett. “Go meet up with Boris. Clean that first floor out. Tie ’em up, kill ’em if they give you trouble, but render them useless.”
“Sure thing, Ed,” he answered, and Boris acknowledge me as well.
“You want us to go, pretty boy?” Mickey asked.
“Yeah,” I sighed, looking to Bella. “You watch that sweet ass, sweetness. Check in ASAP.”
“Okay,” she stated, readying her weapon and following Mickey and Emmett out of the room.
Eleazar took a seat on the edge of the desk. Mrs. Maslov stayed quiet, but her eyes locked onto a picture of her husband.
“Is Sergei gonna make it?” I asked her, but Eleazar translated the question.
She smiled sadly. “Yes. Home soon,” she stated in rough English. “I hope.”
Smiling back her way, I nodded, watching my crew and wife run across the street and into the building. They commanded each other over the com link, but I practically jumped when Maslov’s old phone started to vibrate across his desk.
I locked gazes with Eleazar, but my command was to Kurt and Alice. “Here we go. Look sharp. Tell me if you can trace this call.”
“Go, Edward,” Kurt answered.
Tapping my ear, I silently told Eleazar to listen in to Emmett’s takedown of the apartments, but I shut my ear piece off in order to answer the phone.
“Cullen!” I snapped, barely able to hold back the hatred in my voice.
“Ah, young Cullen. I hope I find you successful in your progress,” the raspy, accented voice crawled over the line.
“Fuck you. I wanna talk to my father before I tell you shit. Now. Like ten fucking seconds ago,” I ordered. This asshole no longer called the fucking shots.
“Fair enough. Carlisle, say hello to your son,” he stated.
“Edward.” My dad sounded exhausted and weak, but he was at least alive, and I wanted to stall as long as I could for Alice to maybe work some of her genius magic.
“You okay, Dad?” I asked uselessly, because until I set eyes on my father, he wasn’t okay.
“Yeah, son, but don’t you dare give these motherfuckers a damn thing. Am I clear?” he asked, but I frowned at the fact that there was barely any power behind his voice.
“Dad, I’m going to do what I have to in order to get you out of there,” I stated cryptically. “I need you to hang in there for me.”
“Not so fast, Edward,” the caller interrupted. And now I was truly convinced I was dealing with Yury Spektor. “Tell me your progress.”
“I’ve got what you want, but this trade will go my way. And I don’t give a shit where you are or where you have to come from. You’ll make this trade at the Mayak mine in Norlisk.”
The line went silent for a moment.
“No can do, Cullen. That’s not good for me.”
“Trust me when I tell you that George Stefan is out of this fucked-up race you’ve put me in. I have control of his little village, and he’s soon to be…removed from the equation altogether. Now… I have the missile casings and the uranium. I want my father in my sights before you get shit. Front gates, at dawn.”
The line was quiet again, but finally, I got an answer. “Okay, but I want to be able to see both crates from the road.”
“I can do that,” I vowed, thinking empty crates looked the same from far away. I was just about to ask why my father sounded like shit, but I was cut off.
“Dawn.” The line went dead, and I looked at El.
“Well, now we have our trade point. Right there.”
“Ed,” El started, looking out the window.
“We don’t have to leave the shit in the crates – just use them as bait…”
“Edward!” Eleazar yelled, and my attention snapped to him. “Kid, you need to turn your com link on.”
I touched my earpiece, asking “Why?” at the same time.
“They traced that phone call, son,” he whispered, pointing out the window. “Kurt fucking flew the coop, man. Em’s team cleared that apartment building, and then Kurt met them at the gate in the Humvee.”
“Oh fuck… Sweetness, you better fucking check in, and I mean now!” I growled, starting for the door, but El’s hand stopped me.
“Edward, he’s less than five miles away. It’s an old abandoned mine! I knew they were staying close by to Norilsk. I just fucking knew it!” Bella answered over the com link. “You stop Stefan. We’ll get your dad.”
“No, no, no!” I was fucking livid.
“Stop, kid,” Alec stated calmly over the radio. “She’s got Kurt, Emmett, and Mickey with her. They’ve got this shit. And unfortunately, we’re about to have company.”
Bringing my binoculars to my eyes, I scanned the road, seeing headlights heading our way, but they came to a stop.
“Oh no, we’re not,” I groaned, shaking my head. “We just lost Stefan. He got spooked.”
“Oh, hell,” Mickey groaned.
“Don’t you dare, wild child,” I started to reprimand, but Eleazar stopped me again.
“Never mind Stefan. My people can catch him. Let’s follow that lead your girl is hell-bent on following,” he suggested.
“Alice, how sure are you?” I asked.
“So fucking sure that I sent Bella to get him,” she replied without apology. “I broke his algorithm. He’s four and a half miles just south of you in a mine that was shut down years ago because it dried up. It wouldn’t have been on the map.”
“Okay,” I sighed. “And the satellite. What’s it show?”
“Several warm bodies around a small shallow tunnel…and one warm body in a room all by itself.”
“Shit!” I hissed, yanking off my cap and gripping my hair. I turned to Eleazar. “You stay here. You guard that shit with your life. Jasper, move in closer. I need you on the ground and in control. Boris, you’re gonna fly with me.”
“Copy that,” Boris replied, as did Jasper.
“Edward—” Bella started.
“Don’t, Bella. Just…” I was pissed, but it wasn’t like I wouldn’t have done the same fucking thing. “Just stay safe, yeah? You’ll have air support ASAP.”
I knew she was most likely bracing for my temper, but she sighed in relief. “Hurry, Edward. If we find your dad, this’ll all be over.”
Running down the stairs and out of that fucking hole in the ground, I said, “Ten-four, sweetness. I’m on my way.”


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