Vitaly Penn | Teen Ink

Vitaly Penn

August 9, 2011
By TheForgottenPoet, Greenville, South Carolina
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TheForgottenPoet, Greenville, South Carolina
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There is only one answer to the universal question “why?” The answer is quite simple, one of those basic answers, where you never get because you think too hard to figure it out. It’s funny how we can over analyze the simple things. Take for instance how we behave, it’s complex but simple in the fact, that we should realize it’s unpredictable. Human behavior is perhaps the last mystery on this earth, and will remain, in my opinion, the only unsolved mystery human kind will ever encounter. People can be so predictable at times, but in other times, their actions are completely opposite of what you would really expect. The fact that no two people are exactly the same, from their likes and dislikes, to their fingerprints, everyone is unique. The idea of being able to accurately predict how someone will act is as fiction as you can get, that’s why I love my job.

I do believe I never introduced myself, and I never told you the answer to the simple question of “why” but have patience my friend; a good audience waits for the end of the play for the twist to be revealed and doesn’t shout out the answer and stop watching even if they believe they have figured it out. I will not keep you waiting long, just long enough to make you even more curious. Because every good story starts with a hook to pull the reader in, and without that hook, you might as well wrote the same sentence over and over, because no one will ever get past the first page.

My name is Vitaly Penn; if I had friends they’d call me Vitaly. I grew up in Washington, and moved to Rebus when I was in my early twenties and started my business. I never met my real parents. My mother died giving birth to me and my father gave me away to my aunt who raised me. I never understood how he could give away his only son and forget about me. I never met him, and I never forgave him. 10 years ago my father died and for 10 years now I have been in the business of guessing human actions for, private investigations I mean. I come across the simple question of “why” quite often in my line of work. Why Joey killed his wife? Why Susie ran away from home? Why Sierra disappeared? They all of course had their solutions and their reasons. Joey was a drunk, rattled, and was already abusive sober. He pushed his wife through a glass door on the balcony of their home on one of his nightly rampages, he was later found in a public restroom, gun, blood and note. Susie ran away because she had been through a recent harsh breakup with her boyfriend, a 16 year old love, which seems all but perfect in the naivety of high school sweethearts. She was found at a friend’s home, two states away. Sierra disappearance was determined a murder, two years later, her parents still hadn’t given up hope that their little 12 year old daughter was still alive. They hired me to find her, I did. She had become part of a human trafficking organization for foreign leaders to buy and sell sex playmates. Sierra was an early bloomer so she was a prime target. With a little help from local police the situation was taken control of and Sierra was brought home to loving parents.

All these stories had the question why, and only one answer always came to mind when the situation was first brought to my attention. The only answer that makes sense. The only answer that doesn’t involve human nature, the only true answer.

Why Not.

I sat up quickly in bed. Sweat ran from my forehead. Tense fear ran through my body. My hand gripped my gun tightly, turning my knuckles white. I never had to shoot my weapon, not yet. I’ve pulled it a couple of times, sometimes for scaring someone, sometimes for protection. I never slept well, not for years, and it was really uncommon for me to constantly wake up during the night. Over the years I have gotten used to the loss of sleep and adapted, so the two hours I had gotten was like the eight most people needed. It was 4:23 a.m. I didn’t necessarily have a time to be up, since I worked alone with my own private investigations service, but I always tried to open the office at about 8:00 since most places did it that way. I swung my legs off the bed and laid my gun down on the nightstand. I stretched my back and examined my small apartment room. The walls were white, and a window sat at the edge of the bed, in the corner opposite of me was a corner stand with a small TV sitting on top. I never watched it, but it was there. The closet at the far right of the room was empty; I never was interested in hanging my clothes up.

I stood up and twisted to the right and left, my back cracked a chorus of snaps with each turn. I walked to the living room of my one bedroom apartment. I had a sofa, and a recliner. I never had company so the extra seating was just there because. In front of the sofa was an entertainment center with another TV, which never seemed to be on either. To its right was the kitchen, and to the left was the sliding door to the balcony, overlooking the city. Under the apartment was my office, a simple desk, a chair behind, two chairs in front, a small couch on the side, a bookshelf and a computer on the desk. Nothing special, the classic office. In the desk I kept extra rounds and clips for my pistol and my detective license. I never wanted a nice home. A cozy one room apartment was my mansion.

I went to my kitchen and opened the fridge; I grabbed two V8 cans and an apple.”An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” I said to myself, half-smiling at the old saying. I had been a vegetarian for 15 years, since I was 15 years old. I drank the V8’s and tossed them in the recycling bin. I tossed the apple between my hands and went back to my room, taking a bite when the apple landed in my right hand. I placed the apple down beside my gun and went into my bathroom, and took a quick shower. I didn’t dress fancy. I put on a black shirt, and my dockers clutch and grabbed my gun and slid it in place and fastened the buckle. I put a coat on to conceal the weapon; I slipped on a clean pair of jeans and finished off my outfit with a pair of socks and a cheap pair of black shoes from a store on the corner. I picked my apple up and glanced at the clock, 5:00 a.m. enough time for an early morning walk to get some fresh air and keep healthy.

I grabbed a couple of extra clips and slid them into the opposite side of my dockers clutch to balance the wait and got my keys. I left my office and locked it behind me. The morning air was brisk, and the sky looked like rain was soon to come, how unsurprising. The city, or at least this side of it, was dead. The sun had started to form a thing light along the horizon, and the only other people up were the truck drivers, delivery boys and those getting off of third shift. No one gave me a second glance, the classic New York City attitude, mind your own business and don’t bother with anyone else. The funny thing was we were a country away from New York. I lived in the lovely, rainy city of Rebus, Washington. It’s just north of Seattle on the cost. When I was little, in summer time it would be hot until mid afternoon and then it would always storm a nice summer storm till nightfall. Then in the middle of the night it would sometimes rain again and you could open your curtains and watch it fall in the street lights, and sleep to the symphony of the raindrops on your roof.

I turned left coming from my office and walked to the corner of 5th and Trade Street. There was nothing to catch my eye or anyone’s for that matter, just another ordinary morning on another ordinary day. I strolled around the block watching the sun rise until it was at a good settled overhead look and walked back to my office. As soon as I closed the door behind me the phone rang. I answered on the third ring after hanging my coat up and sitting behind my desk.
“Vitaly Penn’s office, how can I help you?” I asked courteously.
“I am in need of someone to investigate a specific, disappearance” answered a male voice.
“Very well sir, would you like to come in for a more personal meeting or should I take the details by phone.” I asked getting a pad and pen out. Most people just gave me details over the phone to save the trip, so the question was just old habits, but I asked anyways.
“I would like to meet in person. Say, the Old Hat Café on 17th around noon today?” answered the man.
“Sounds lovely, and what is the name of the gentleman I shall be meeting with” I asked, using gentleman as an assumed term, for all I knew this man could be dressed in his boxers and a white wife-beater when I met him.
“Vaughn. Vaughn Nightly.” answered the voice on the other end of the line.
“Very well, see you then.” I heard the click as Vaughn Nightly hung the phone up on his end. I did the same and leaned back in my chair. It was 8:45 am; I had plenty of time before I had to meet with this mysterious caller. I decided maybe it would be in my best interest to do a little background search. I turned to the computer sitting on my desk. A simple laptop made to do nothing but type papers and run the internet. I brought up Google on the page. I typed in Vaughn’s full name and waited for a response. A lot of times nothing would come up, many people shared similar names, but then I would just resort to using my access to police files to find the person I was looking for, but this time, things were much simpler. Only one man came to the screen, a multi-million dollar Russian immigrant. A business man of stature and one that seemed to not share all of his business interests. One of the biggest red flags in my business or any is people that have way too much money, and way too much secrecy. Apparently Vaughn ran a company named Nightly Incorporated who dealt with mostly investments, or that’s what they told the public, I could tell this was going to be a dirty job.

I didn’t do much until the meeting time, just an average morning, I cleaned my pistol, and oiled the barrel, although I didn’t use it often, I didn’t want it to jam the one time I needed it. I found myself sitting at a table at the Old Hat Café around 11:45, fifteen minutes before the meet. I was there scoping out the man I would be meeting. You can tell a lot about a person by their entrances. Noon rolled around and I saw a black Mercedes pull up in front of the café. A man, with black sunglasses, shaved head and a nice black suit stepped out of the passenger side of the car and walked back to open the back door. As the man turned I could easily see the pistol he carried tucked in his waistband under his jacket. He opened the door and an older man stepped out of the back. With the same style of black sunglasses. He wasn’t overweight but he had a little extra baggage on him. He had a full head of gray hair under a fedora hat to match his black suit. His beard, which stretched from his ears to his chin and crawled up his lips from its starting point of his nose, was gray just like his hair. He had a cane and walked with a smug posture that only the richest of the rich seemed to be able to accomplish. As the old man got out of the car he checked his surrounding so I could tell he was an attentive man, even at his age, which I assumed to be around his late fifties or early sixties. I raised my hand to catch his attention and met eye contact with him when he looked. This was Vaughn Nightly, a man with more than a million dollars to his name, but no one knew a thing about. This was the man who had the hardest job offer I would ever come to receive.

“And I presume this is the famous and to some infamous Vitaly Penn whom which I am meeting with?” Vaughn asked me, while taking a seat in front of me. I nodded and stood as he sat, showing manners which in this time had been long forgotten, but still made a good impression. Mr. Nightly was carrying an envelope as he sat down, and he sat it on the table in front of him. An older woman came up to the table wearing an apron carrying a pad and paper,
“You fella’s ready to order? Or ya need anotha minute?” she asked with a lazy and uninterested tone.
“I would love a cup of coffee please, no cream, no sugar, just black” Mr. Nightly answered her.
“And for you sir?” the waitress asked me.
“A glass of water.” I answered watching her scribble down the order messily on the pad of paper. She left a moment later, mumbling how our drinks would be out in a moment. I looked up at Vaughn, and waited for him to speak first. I needed to watch how he acted, to learn more about him, so I let him take the first moves.
“I beg your pardon Mr. Penn but I never properly introduced myself” said Mr. Nightly with a fake, gentleman like tone, “My name is Vaughn Nightly, owner and CEO of Nightly Incorporated the finest investment business on the west coast.”
“Pleased to meet you Mr. Nightly, as you are well aware I am Vitaly Penn, private investigator for hire in all areas of mystery.” I answered, giving the usual introduction I give to everyone.
“Well then, straight to business now that that’s out of the way.” Responded Mr. Nightly, “I am in need of someone with your, particular set of skills to find something that went missing. This is a very delicate subject so the more secrecy the better, I would like to keep this one off any records, considering the delicacy of the situation.”
“Why is this missing thing of yours so important?” I asked, although it didn’t really matter the reason why I always asked, because occasionally it helped solve the case itself. Mostly this time I was curious because of all the secrecy Mr. Nightly was asking for.
“Not to sound rude Mr. Penn, but I don’t believe that will help you in solving this case.” answered Mr. Nightly. I nodded; of course he wouldn’t give away to much information.
“Continue then Mr. Nightly” I said to him twirling my finger in a circular motion.
“Now, here is a file on what I want found,” he said as he slid the envelope he was carrying to me across the table. On the top of the envelope read For Mr. Penn’s eyes only. I broke the seal on the back and removed the folder that was inside. On opening it I discovered a stack of papers, maybe 6 or 7 high, and a picture paper clipped to the top. The first page was a birth certificate to a girl named Lyndsay Nightly. I looked at the picture clipped to the folder. It was a brown headed girl with hazel eyes, and a nice smile, she was beautiful, and Mr. Nightly had my full attention now.
“I guess the correct term would be who I want found. This is my daughter, she disappeared three months ago, and I would like her to be found.” He said. I closed the folder and slid it back inside the envelope.
“I charge $400 at the start and $400 when I find her.” I answered, laying the envelope back down. Mr. Nightly laughed,
“I like a man who is confident, ‘when’ you find her instead of ‘if’,” he said chuckling at the end, “because of the rare circumstances of this job I am willing to pay you $2000 now and another $2000 when you find her.”
“Why so much?” I asked.
“Are you complaining?” answered Mr. Nightly. I half smiled,
“I will take the job. I will update you with new information if you like.” I offered.
“That won’t be necessary, just come to my building in Seattle when you have found the girl. Until then, I await the return of my beautiful daughter.” He answered. Mr. Nightly rose from the table and I stood with him, he outstretched his hand. His grip was firm, but still one of an aging man.
“Pleasure doing business with you Mr. Penn” he said to me.
“Likewise” I answered. He turned and walked back to the Mercedes still waiting in front of the café. The man with the black suit opened the door for Mr. Nightly and then returned himself into the passenger side and the car drove off. The waitress returned with our drinks.
“Where did your friend go?” she asked, setting down his coffee and my water. I didn’t answer her.
“Well good riddance, he gave me the creeps anyways.” Said the waitress “I don’t like fellas like him, coming in here. Can I get you anything else? Coffee is on us.” She asked.
“No, thank you though.” I answered handing her a couple of dollar bills. She nodded and walked off to serve another table. I drank my glass of water and stood to walk back to my office.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

When I arrived back at my office, I locked the door behind me and hung up my coat. I sat behind my desk and opened the envelope again. I pulled out the birth certificate and studied the name. Lyndsay Nightly, it just didn’t sound right, something was off. I fumbled through the other papers in the folder. The pile was composed of receipts, a list of phone calls, credit card purchases and an address. I brought up Google again on my computer. I typed in the address in the files, 1211 Gavin Drive, Apartment 23b, Rebus, Washington. Directions to a house appeared on my screen. I thought that was a good place to start this mystery. I read over the directions, memorized them and closed the web browser. I placed the files back in the folder and slid them back in the envelope. I unlocked the top drawer of my desk and placed the envelope in there, locking the drawer back when I closed it. I grabbed my coat and headed out of my office to the address.

1211 Gavin Drive was not too far of a walk and it looked pretty normal as well. It was just normal, Rebus apartments. On either side were other apartment buildings and across the street were a subway entrance and a couple of corner stores. I walked up the stairs in the front and walked inside. The apartment stunk of a medley of different smells, mixing and mingling to form a whole new smell. I looked to my right and saw mailboxes, and beside them a door reading, landlord office. In front of me were stairs leading up and beside them on the wall to the left read a side with an arrow pointing down a hall 1a – 23a. I walked up the stairs and saw another sign, just like the one below, 1b – 23b. On the right was more mailboxes, these were for the b apartments. I checked the one for 23b. It was locked; I pulled out my lock pick set from my coat pocket and slid the tools into the lock. After a moment I heard the soft yet satisfying click of the pins sliding into place and I opened the mailbox. Inside was a pile of mail, I sorted through the letters just glancing at the different return addresses, after 15 years of digging through other peoples mail you start to learn which ones actually are important. I came across a hand addressed letter, to a Lyndsay Nadine. There was no return address, this letter was hand delivered. I shoved the mail back into the box but took the hand written letter with me, I closed the mail box and walked down the hall to apartment 23b.

The walls of the apartment were chipping and the old wallpaper was yellowing and peeling at the edges. Each step I took aroused a melody of creeks from the old floor boards and the window at the end of the hall was smeared and dirty. Bars covered the outside of it while an AC unit sat on the window sill. 23b was on the left side of the hall. The door was wood, and aging. A peephole was at the top and the knob was bronze but after a minute of studying it I decided that it was once painted silver. I tried the door, of course it was locked. The doors you need to get in are always locked while the unimportant ones swing wide open for you. It was a simple lock so I just used an old hotel key card I had to pop the lock and walk in. I could have never been prepared for what happened to me next.

As I entered the apartment and let the door close behind me I realized something, the place was too clean. An apartment for a young girl living alone is never this clean. For those in detective work a perfectly clean apartment is like a nightmare, you know that whoever the apartment belongs to, or supposedly belongs to, is hiding something but you know that no matter how hard you look, you’ll never find anything. But I had no other leads and no plans for the rest of the day so I thought I would try my luck.

The apartment was truly spotless, from the coffee table to the right centered precisely in the center of the living room with a couch perfectly positioned behind it and both sitting directly in front of an entertainment center with a flat screen T.V. to the kitchen to the left with not a spot to be seen. This single apartment was so well cleaned that it seemed to stick out from the rest of the complex. As I walked down the small hall a bathroom was on my right and a bedroom on my left. I opened the door to the bedroom to find yet another spotless room. A dresser sat in the far corner and a bed to my right, the head against the wall. I started my search here, I checked walls for any hollow points and I checked the dresser for any false bottoms. I checked the closet for any secret compartments and I even looked under the bed. A window was on the right wall with the blinds closed askew. I went over and lifted the string to pull up the blinds. I almost jumped back when the blood appeared on the window.

The window had blood streaks all across it which looked to be made with human fingers. In the center, smeared through the blood was the simple word “Liar.” I glanced through the window as best as I could, straight in front of me and right through the view of the window was a billboard advertising Nightly Incorporated, with Mr. Vaughn Nightly’s face smiling down at the road below. Something wasn’t right. I remembered the hand written letter I pulled from the mailbox and sat down on the bed to read its contents.

Dear Ms. Lyndsay Nadine,

I am sorry to inform you of the misfortunate events that you have gotten yourself into. Because of you particular involvement with Mr. Nightly’s business we feel that it is in your best interest to leave town, and never open your mouth again about what you have seen, if you do not respond to this request within 24 hours you will be dealt with personally. We’ll see you soon.

Nightly Incorporated

Head of Security

Something definitely wasn’t right. I sealed the letter back in the envelope and left the apartment. I went downstairs and knocked on the Landlords door.
“What? Who is it? Whad ya want?” answered a rough voice from behind the door, I heard footsteps approaching and then the door opened half way, being stopped by the chain lock at the top of the door.
“I need some information about a tenant of yours.” I answered, trying to sound sincere.
“Well that depends on who’s askin. Can’t just be givin information away to anyone these days. You never know who’s gonna stick a bomb in their underwears and go chargin in a school or something.” answered the man.
“Fair enough. My name is Mr. Penn; I am a private investigator for the city of Rebus.” I answered, holding out a business card for the man to take.
“Yeah yeah I heard of ya, who hasn’t? You the fellow who found that runaway girl aint ya?” he answered not taking the card, “Give me a minute, you can come in an’ have a drink or something.” The man closed the door and I heard the rattling of the chain long being pulled away, and the door opened. The landlord was a short fellow, balding and with a scraggly beard. He was wearing overalls with only one strap buttoned and a white shirt with a coffee stain on it under them. I was surprised he has something under the overalls.
“My name is Timmy, I aint got no fancy title like you but I own this here apartment complex and I done have my entire life.” Timmy said to me.
“Pleasure is mine.” I answered outstretching my hand.
“No need for the manners, you aint got no one here to impress. My wife done died years ago, the old, yapping broad, bless her soul. Aint never loved another like her, I tell ya what.” Timmy said to me forcing me inside by closing the door behind me as I walked in.
“How, romantic. I need information on apartment 23b. A Miss Lyndsay Nadine if you remember.” I asked, getting straight to the point. Timmy’s apartment and office was a wreck. Nothing compared to what I saw upstairs. He had a stained brown couch in front of an old TV set with an antenna on it at the right of the room. At the left was a hallway that I assumed led back to a bedroom and bathroom. Timmy led me to an extra room on the right just inside the apartment with a desk with two chairs in front and one behind. The nice folding, cold metal chairs you find at outdoor events that have little money spent on them. There was a file cabinet at the right and a plant that was long dead at the left. Timmy sat down behind the desk and motioned for me to sit in front. I sat down in one of the uncomfortable, cold, metal chairs and watched as Timmy dug through the file cabinet while still sitting in the chair behind his desk, mumbling to himself. He produced a file and slid back around to the desk, slapping the folder on the table.
“Here it is. Miss Lyndsay Nadine. Pretty girl, nice brown hair and hazel eyes. Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen her around here for a couple days now. She got some mail in the box, I got the master key if you wanna look.” Timmy said to me sliding the file to my side of his desk.
“That won’t be necessary” I answered, laughing to myself about already looking in the mailbox.
“Can I take this?” I asked Timmy. He looked for a second and then nodded his head.
“Just don’t go blowin up no schools usin her name or nothin, I got your card, so I won’t be forgettin who ya are. I heard she was already in some trouble as it is.” Timmy said, laughing. I nodded and left his apartment quickly, the less time in there the better, it was uncomfortable. I walked out of the building and headed to my office. I was on my way to grab a camera to take some pictures of the apartment. I was thinking of what Timmy last said to me. Not the blowing up some school part but not forgetting who I am, mostly how he knew she was in trouble since Mr. Nightly was so secretive about this deal in the first place. How could he know she was in trouble. I stopped, almost in the middle of the street; I was only a block from my office now and about three from Lyndsay’s apartment complex. I spun on my heels and sprinted back to the complex, I gripped the file I took tightly. No wonder he let me take it with me. I could see the building now and I could see Timmy, the so called, landlord leaving quickly down the stairs. He turned and saw me. He started to run faster as I pushed myself to get there before he could get away. He was headed towards a car parked down the street. A black Ford Mustang. I couldn’t catch the license plate number it was still too far away. Timmy beat me to his car and turned towards me while he opened the passenger door. He produced a gun from the inside of the car and fired at me. I had to duck in an alley to my right. Timmy fired four rounds off at me and then I heard the car door slam and the tires squeal as he sped off. After glancing around the corner to make sure it was safe, I rushed to the stairs of the building. The smell of smoke invaded my lungs as I ran up the steps and burst through the door. The door to the landlords office was still open slightly, I ran inside. The room was a furnace. A couple cans of gas were dispersed throughout the room, and I could see that most of them had been dumped around the apartment. I didn’t have a lot of time; I ran to the back of the apartment and went into the room to the right. A short man, much older than the Timmy guy, lay against the wall, two bullet holes through his head. I quickly searched the room for anything and found nothing except a wallet on the deceased landlord. I put it in my back pocket and left the apartment. I ran up the stairs to 23b. The smoke was worse the higher up I got. The door was open to the apartment; I knew that Timmy had already set fire to it as well. I walked over and looked in and saw the inferno that was once Lyndsay’s apartment. All evidence was burned and I knew I couldn’t save anything. Worst of all, I knew what was going to happen next. I left the complex and dialed 9-1-1, maybe the fire department could get out here quick enough to stop the whole place from burning down. As I looked up in the sky and started to see the black smoke coming from the building I realized there was no chance of anything being saved. I just hoped no one else was in there.

I knew now what this job really was, and I knew it most likely wasn’t going to end happily. I knew this was going to be a mess, and I just dug myself deeper. What happens next is when the real fun truly starts.

As I walked back into my office, I grabbed the mail from the box on the front and I locked the door behind me. It was around 8:45 that night by the time I was back in. I didn’t stay for when the fire squad got to the apartment; I didn’t want to be seen there. I glanced through the mail I picked up from outside not really paying attention to it as I thought about what I needed to do next. There was a knock at my office door. I knew who it was, and I knew this was the last time I would be in my office for a while. I grabbed my camera, some gloves and the rest of the extra rounds from my top drawer. I put my coat on and walked to the back door of my office. I heard shouting from the front,
“This is the RPD, open up or we will force the door down!” Shouted one of the officers outside. I grabbed the keys hanging by the door and walked out locking it behind me. At the back of my apartment and office was an alley way where I kept my car. I didn’t drive much because most places I could walk, but I took care of my car. It was a black 2011 Audi S5, it was a rather expensive car for a private investigator to be driving, but I acquired it on a case. I found the daughter of a very rich family and as payment and punishment to her; they gave me the sports car they had bought her. At first I was reluctant but now I see why I decided to take it. As I got in the car, and started it up with the push button start, after the roar of the engine I heard the door to my office break down and the officers shuffling in. Through the window of the back door I could see them all, filling in as if I were a dangerous criminal. I put the car in drive and drove down the alley to where it ended at Aberro Avenue. I needed to find this Lyndsay girl but I had no idea where to look. I took a left out of the alley and headed towards downtown. I knew that was a good place to start looking and maybe find some answers. I had some sources of information that I could talk to, but most of the time it cost me something. This time I might have to force them into it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It wasn’t far to downtown Rebus and I knew I couldn’t stay long. I have to keep a low profile and not attract any attention. I parked the S5 in a garage on the third floor and used the stairs down. There was a club named Donny’s that I had some connections at. The bartender there was a weasel. He told other people’s business for some quick cash, mostly business involving certain illegal activities. Although in the crime world such a thing is very dangerous, but to those solving crimes it came in handy. If there was any word about what was going on then he would know.

I turned the corner and there was Donny’s right out in the open. Since it was late there was a bouncer outside, the cliché bouncer with a list and a velvet rope. Checking people off as they came, I knew that flashing my detectives badge would just give me unwanted attention and might spook my source. I walked past the club and down the alley to the left where the back door was for the trash to be taken out, both kinds of trash if you know what I mean. I looked around to check and make sure there were no camera’s and proceeded to pick the lock. It was a simple lock, no deadbolt so it didn’t take long. I opened the door slowly, listening for any sudden movements that would mean it was time for me to leave but I got lucky and no one was in the back hall of the club, for now at least, I didn’t have long. I walked inside and silently shut the door behind me.

Inside the back hall of the club wasn’t very fancy at all. Old walls with old yellowing and cracking sheetrock surrounded the thin hallway that was just big enough for to average sized people to fit through. Or one large bouncer carrying someone. I didn’t have time to admire the decay; I had to move before I was spotted. I walked down the hallway slowly, listening intently. As I got closer, the steady beat of club music pounded in my ear drums. I could hear the steps of people dancing outside when I got to the end of the hall. To my right was a wall, and straight ahead was a door that read “Manager” on a little sign. To the left was the dance floor of the club and the entrance to behind the bar, where no doubt my source would be working. I walked down the hall; I needed an excuse to be back here since there was a bouncer blocking this area off. I started to walk from side to side with almost a limp; I put on a goofy smile look and took on the appearance of a drunken man. As I walked down the hall, to my luck I found an empty bottle of beer on the floor, I picked it up to finish the drunkard look. I walked towards the bouncer and “accidentally” bumped into him.
“Hey?! What are you doing back here?!” yelled the bouncer grabbing my arm.
“I –Hiccup- was looking for a bathroom man.” I said, using a voice that was drowsy and droned off at the end. I stumbled a little to my left to really try and convince him.
“Ain’t no bathroom back here. Get outta here before I throw you out.” Replied the bouncer. He pushed me forward out towards the dance floor and center of the room. I pretended to struggle to catch my balance then look back at him and smiled. I held my bottle up to him as a toast and then used the crowd for cover to get away.

I pushed my way through dancers and talkers and party goers of all sorts. I sat the bottle down on a random table in front of two people who just looked at me confused. I worked my way to opposite side of the bar where the bouncer couldn’t see me. I knew I probably couldn’t get much information from my source with all these people; I’d have to get him to come outside. As I approached the bar and took a seat I saw him at the end serving another customer his drink. I waved him down. The man was short, messy brown hair and dark circles under his eyes like he didn’t sleep or suffered from insomnia or sleep apnea. He walked with a hunched back and had just a rat look about himself. His name was Randall, Randall Sine. He walked over to me.
“Detective Penn. How, pleasant to see you again.” Randall said to me. Our last meeting didn’t end well for him. I almost broke his wrist to get the location of a suspect I had.
“Pleasure is all mine Randall.” I replied. “I need some information from you.”
“Of course you do. No one comes to just see me. Are you going to almost break my arm again if I don’t tell you?” Randall responded.
“Not if you tell me what I need to know I won’t.” I answered.
“You know I posted a picture of you in the manager’s office saying not to let you in. I could charge you for B&E” he said.
“And I could turn you in for many things, but I told you as long as you helped me I would keep it all quiet. Do I need to remind you of your drug days? Or how about the wasted night you had when you stole and wrecked a Mercedes?” I replied. He had no leverage against me and he knew it, he was just stalling.
“Fine. Fine. What do you wanna know?” he answered.
“What do you know about Nightly Incorporated?” I asked, lowering my voice and leaning in. Randall backed up, with a surprised look. He looked around and then leaned back in.

“What exactly do you want to know?” Randall asked me.
“Anything you can tell me. I have a case, and it has taken some weird turns, I just need somewhere to start.” I answered. Randall backed up again and looked around. He turned his head both ways then towards the door.
“Sorry, I don’t know anything about it. Never heard of it. Sorry” he answered and started to walk back to the other side of the bar. I almost tried to stop him but I noticed his eyes didn’t leave an exact spot. I followed his view to a group of men, dressed in black suits approaching him. There were three of them. Randall had the look of a terrified lab rat when the scientists come again to take him for testing. The leader of the group I assumed approached the bar and gave Randall the hardcore look of a bully in grade school. He motioned with his finger for Randall to come over. The hunched bartender slowly walked over, his hands shaking. The man in the black suit grabbed him by the shirt collar and spoke to him in a different language. I couldn’t understand the language, I only spoke English. Randall nodded and the man in the black suit let go. They both walked down to the opposite side of the bar where I came in. Randall whispered to the bouncer who had to lean down and then moved aside and the men with the black suits walked by. Then they disappeared into the back. I heard the open and close of the door, the manager’s door I assumed. I needed to get back there, something wasn’t right. Randall knew about Nightly Incorporated, but why did he shut his mouth as soon as these guys walked in? I needed a distraction. I looked around and found my way in. A group of three guys were in the back corner at a table. They each had a large bottle of Vodka in their hands and a deck of cards on the table. I walked over to them and grabbed a chair from another table and flipped it around. I sat down at the end of their table. The three guys just looked at me, mind boggled. This would be easy.
“Alright fella’s here’s a little game I like to play, if I can guess your card, you’re going to buy me a drink. If I don’t guess your card I buy you a drink. Want to play? I said grabbing the deck of cards and shuffling. The group’s eyes lit up with the sound of free drinks.
“Definitely” one of the guys said while the rest of them nodded. I smiled.
“Alright who wants to go first?” I asked. One of the guys raised his hand.
“Alright, take the deck, shuffle and count on 21 cards and lay them in a pile.” The guy shuffled the cards and counted out 21 in a pile. I slid the pile of cards over to me and dealt out three piles of seven.
“Choose a pile friend.” I said. The guy picked the middle pile. I held it up to where they could see all the cards. “Pick a card, but don’t touch it, just mentally remember it.” I waited till the guy nodded laughing. I smiled and placed the pile in between the other two. I dealt out three piles of seven again. I held up the first pile,
“Is your card in here?” I asked the guy. He nodded. I placed that pile between the other two and counted out again three piles of seven. I held up the first pile.
“Is your card in here?” I asked.
“Nope” the guy said. I held up the middle pile.
“Your card in here?” I asked.
“Yes sir.” He said to me nodding and smiling. I placed the pile of in between the other two.
“Alright, I am going to stop on your card, and if I do, you have to buy me a drink, if not, I buy you one.” The guy nodded and watched as I laid down the cards.
“1. 2. 3. Y-O-U-R C-A-R-D” I said aloud as I laid down the cards, flipping the last one over to reveal what it was. The eight of hearts. “Is this your card?” I asked holding it up. The guy laughed.
“Yeah! That’s crazy.” He said pulling out his wallet. He handed me a twenty dollar bill.
“This’ll buy you a drink won’t it?” he said laughing. I couldn’t tell if he was that drunk or just generous. I guessed he was just that drunk. I pushed the money away.
“Instead of the drink, how about you go over to that bouncer and ask if he wants to play cards?” I said to the guy. Who took the money back quickly and jumped out of the seat.
“Sounds fair to me!” he said walking towards the bouncer guarding the back room. I watched him walk over there and right up to the large bouncer with the deck of cards in one hand, the bottle of vodka in the other. The bouncer grabbed the guy by the collar and picked him up carrying him towards the back door. I forgot to mention that playing cards and gambling was forbidden in Donny’s.

While the bouncer was, taking out the trash. I quickly left the drunken table and made my way to the managers door. I didn’t have a lot of time. I pressed my ear against the wall and listened. I heard the same voice as before speaking the same language I didn’t understand. Then I heard Randall.
“Look. I don’t know who he is. He just came in here asking questions. I swear.” I heard the sound of a smack and Randall cry in pain. The other voice spoke again in that language but this time, instead of Randall answering, the sound after was the click of a gun cocking back. I needed to get in there. The door wasn’t locked so I put on my drunken appearance again, and stumbled in.

“Hey?! Who is this guy?” shouted one of the men dressed in the black suit as I stumbled in. The room was small; there was a desk, file cabinets, and a computer. In the center of the room Randall was tied to a chair, the guy I saw speaking earlier in front of him with the gun. The guy that yelled was beside him and another right inside the door now behind me.
“What? Where am I? This isn’t the bathroom. Aw man. Hey?! Whoa?! Is that a gun?!” I said playing up a false fear. The black suit guy behind me grabbed my arms and held them behind my back. The man speaking to Randall in the foreign language looked at me.
“Who the hell are you?” he asked in a thick accent.
“No the real question is who are you?” I asked still playing the drunken man act.
“Don’t play games with me; do you know who I am?” He replied pointing the gun at me.
“Hey now, there’s no need for that, let’s just talk about this like good fellows. Let me buy you a drink!” I said worming out of the guy’s grip on me and taking two steps closer before he grabbed me again. The guy with the gun stepped closer, his first mistake; he whispered a sentence beside my ear in that same foreign language. Now that I could hear it up close, I could tell it was Russian. The other men dressed in the black suits laughed when he finished.
“Bartender, translate for me please.” Said the leader of the group. Randall looked at me,
“He said ‘Maybe he should put your balls in a meat grinder and feed them to you then you wouldn’t want to play games anymore’”. The group laughed again. The leader placed the cold barrel of the gun against my head. His second mistake.
“Now who are you?” he asked again in the same thick accent. I felt that the guy behind me holding my arms had a gun in his waist band; I assumed the other guy had one as well. I took in a deep breath and then quickly bent down and threw myself up throwing my head back, catching the guy holding me in the nose with the back of my head. I heard the satisfying crack of a break. I grabbed the gun of the leader with my left and twisted his wrist back with my right, forcing him to let go of the gun and breaking his wrist. Using his own weight against him while he leaned forward in pain I kicked his leg out from underneath him and he fell to the ground. I held the gun to his head, making sure to stay out of arms reach and to keep my weight on the back of my foot. In the same smooth motion I drew my pistol from my dockers clutch and pointed it at the guy still beside Randall that shouted when I first entered. The guy with the broken nose recovered and drew his gun slowly and pointed it towards me. The man beside Randall stood still.
“I guess this is what you call a Mexican standoff, but it seems I have two of your guys pinned down and you only have me, so drop your gun and I won’t kill your friends, but decide quickly because my fingers are sweaty and they might slip.” I said to the guy with the broken nose pointing his gun at me. “And you drop yours on the ground and kick it towards me.” I said to the guy that shouted. The room grew tenser and no one moved. For a moment I thought this might end badly. Randall just sat in awe as we all just watched each other’s eyes. The leader of the group stared up at me, no emotion showed; he was definitely of Russian nature. He had rolled to his back when he fell and stayed still when he saw the gun barrel pointed at him. I was at a disadvantage, I couldn’t watch all three of them at once, but I had a feeling the only guy with a chance didn’t want to be the only one left out of this. No one moved for what seemed to be hours, but for a fight there is always days of planning for a five minute showdown. The guy pointing the gun sighed deeply and dropped it and kicked it to my feet putting his hands up. The man that shouted first slowly took his from his waistband and placed it on the ground kicking it to me then putting his hands up as well.
“There, now we can chat like real men. Now you three line up over there so I can watch you without having to give myself whiplash.” I said to the men in the black suits. The leader stood slowly, without losing my eye contact and backed against the wall with the other two. I walked to Randall slowly and handed him the Russian leaders weapon and untied him with one hand, just enough to where he could get out. He thanked me under his breath and then went and picked up the two guns on the floor and held them out to me. I slid my pistol back into its clutch and grabbed the other two guns. I dropped out their clips and held them in a separate hand. Randall held the other gun shakily at the three men in the suits.
“Alright, well we’re going to walk out of here slowly, I would suggest not following, but I know you won’t listen. Thank you for your time and have a lovely night.” I said walking backwards towards the door. Randall walked with me, hands shaking. I was stuck with him now but he did alright. He could come in handy. We managed to get out of the door and then shut it as we walked out. Randall turned to me and said one word but it was the best idea I had heard all night.
“Run.” He said, and we turned and went out the back door in a hurried jog.

passed the bouncer holding the drunken guy against the wall in the alley. Randall was on my heels like a dog following his master as we jogged back to my car in the parking garage around the corner. I kept the guns with me. I thought about dropping them in the dumpster in the alley but the police might find them and really would have me for something. I had a feeling I was getting mixed up in something bigger than just a one city case. I had a feeling that this was only getting started and in the words of Frank Sinatra, “The best is yet to come”.

We made it back to the parking garage where I left the S5. Randall was breathing heavily. For a weasel like he was you would think he would be in better running shape.
“I guess you’re stuck with me now.” I said to Randall walking up the stairs to the third floor of the garage.
“Trust me. You and I just need to get out of town for a while. You don’t want to deal with these guys. This is way more for some small city private eye to handle.” Randall replied. He was probably right; this most likely wasn’t something I would be able to handle on my own.
“You never know ‘till you try my friend. Besides, with the police breathing down my neck I have nowhere else to go.” I said. We made it to the third floor without any problems. It was late, at least midnight. I unlocked the S5 from the key ring and got in the driver’s side. Randall got in the passenger’s seat.
“Now what happens?” asked Randall.
“You tell me what you know about Nightly Incorporated and then I will take you to the airport to get out of town.” I replied. Randall looked uneasily at me; I could tell he was still unsure if he should share his knowledge. Something major was happening with Nightly Incorporated and it had everyone tied up in it somehow.
“They have a warehouse by the docks.” Randall finally answered me. “I don’t know exactly what it’s for but it’s there.”
“How did you find it?” I asked. I wanted to know why he was tied up into this mess as well, Randall was a weasel and a rat but he didn’t get into the serious stuff.
“It was an accident; I was looking into something for a friend. They said they heard about some dealings, you know, weapons and money, down by the docks and I wanted to see what the hype was.” Randall started.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was late; I was jumping the fence when I heard the men speaking to each other. It sounded as if they were speaking Russian. I didn’t speak Russian fluently but I knew enough to catch what they were talking about. This is what my friend was telling me about. I climbed over some crates and boxes and jumped to a trailer so I could get closer. I laid down on my stomach and crawled to the edge to see and hear better. There were seven guys that I could see talking. Maybe twelve more were loading trucks. The other seven were in a circle. There were two guys in black suits standing behind an older man with a gray beard on one side and the four guys on the other side. Three were holding automatic rifles and one was in front talking to the older man. He had a shaved head, or was bald I didn’t know. He spoke in Russian to the man with the gray beard. I could only make out a couple of words here and there. The two men shook hands the gray bearded man spoke now. He spoke in English though.
“I will wire the profits to your accounts tomorrow morning and no worries friend, no one suspects a thing. Not the police, the FBI, the CIA or anyone.” Said the gray bearded man.
“Don’t test my patience Vaughn. We sent you here to America to for business not to get engaged with American ideals. You are Russian, do not forget it. At the end of this we won’t take lightly to traitors. Do you remember Vincent? The first man we sent to America?” Answered the other man. The gray bearded man nodded and they shook hands. I wanted to see what was being loaded in the trucks so I got brave. I climbed down the back of the trailer and walked carefully, hiding behind boxes and storage houses to the trucks being loaded. The men loading the trucks shut the gates of the trailer. I waited as all the men got in three black SUV’s that followed a two black Mercedes out of the docks. As the cars drove off I thought I was lucky that they left no guards. I checked around and waited for another moment to make sure I was alone then I walked out and opened the back of the trailers. There were three trucks that were being loaded. The one I was opening on the far left, one in the middle and one on the far right. The one I opened was full of boxes. I climbed inside and opened the first one I came too. It was loaded with automatic rifles from top to bottom. I had never seen so many weapons in one place. There were side arms, full automatic and semi automatic rifles. Sub machine guns, RPGs and more. I moved on to the next box. This one was packed with cartridges for all kinds of guns and boxes full of bullets. I closed the box and got out of the truck. I shut the gates as quietly as you can shut a ton of steel and moved on to the next truck in the center. As I opened the back of the trailer and climbed in and saw the trailer filled with wooden crates I noticed sounds coming from outside the trailer then the trailer doors shut. I panicked and climbed over a crate and hid behind it. Through the panels of the crate I could see what looked to be military grade equipment. Backpacks, first aid kits, goggles, infrared sensors, scanners and other equipment. It looked like a military owned warehouse with the thousands of boxes piled high with this stuff. I needed to get out before the trucks started to deliver. That’s when I heard the girl.
“Hey let me go!” said the voice.
“What do we have here? A little American girl all alone, coming to explore?” replied a man’s voice with a thick Russian accent.
“I said let me go!” said the girls voice again. I heard some struggles then a man shouted out in pain. Then I heard a smack and the girl hitting the ground.
“You whore! And to think I thought you and I would have some fun together.” Said the man’s voice with the Russian accent. I crawled forward slowly and peeked through the doors and saw three men standing over a girl on the ground with flashlights. Her nose was bleeding and her cheek was blood red. The men were all staring at her. One grabbed her arms and picked her up aggressively, the same one with a bite mark on arm that was bleeding slightly. The girl had pretty brown hair and I think brown eyes but I only saw them for a second. She was much shorter than the men but had a nice figure.
“Now you be quiet and a good girl for me, and I’ll let you walk away from this.” Said the man to the girl. She spit in his eye and he recoiled back but didn’t let her arm go. He wiped his face with his free hand and pulled a gun from his waistband and pressed it against the girls head.
“I said, you be good and I won’t kill you. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” said the man. The girl immediately stopped struggling. The Russian smiled and used the gun barrel to pull up the girl’s shirt. I don’t know what he saw but he jumped back and held the gun at her again.
“Who are you?!” he shouted in that same thick accent. The girl looked frantic, she turned left, then right and tried to run. The other men caught her and held her back. The Russian with the gun ripped something from under the shirt of the girl; it looked to be a thin wire with maybe a speaker. She was wired the whole time. She was working with someone and she was dead now.
“Who do you work for?! The CIA? FBI?!” asked the man. The girl didn’t answer. He jammed the gun in her mouth and cocked it. “You shut your mouth; I have to make a phone call.” The man pulled out a cell phone and dialed it. He spoke Russian to the voice on the other end then hung up.
“Your lucky day seems I can’t kill you. Don’t want any reason for federal agents to be suspicious. You get out of here girl, and you don’t ever speak of this again and all will be well. If you do, we’ll find you.” Said the man and the others let the girl go. I didn’t realize how much I leaning on the trailer door, till I heard it creak and then realized it was open and I was falling face first to the cold cement. Everyone jerked their heads to see me, face planted in the ground.
“And it seems we have another intruder! Is he with you girl?!” shouted the man with the gun. She shook her head. I struggled to get to my feet and almost fell over again. My legs were shaking.
“Who are you?” asked the man.
“I’m Randall.” I answered nervously.
“What are you doing here Randall?” he asked me. I didn’t answer; I backed up against the back of the trailer. The man with the gun walked up to me and held it under my chin.
“The same rule applies for you; if you say a word to anyone we will find you and we will gladly kill you.” He said to me. I nodded and he backed away.
“You two get the hell out of here, and I don’t ever want to see your faces again!” he shouted. The girl ran one way and I ran the opposite, I didn’t stop till I got back to my apartment.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Randall finished his story and looked over at me. His hands were shaking a little now.
“They have that warehouse at the docks. That’s all I know. I never found out what was in that third trailer either.” Randall said to me. He took in a deep breath and let it out and seemed to settle himself.

Randall stared out of the window as we left the parking garage. T the earliest flight I could book for him was at 6:45am to Richmond VA where his sister lived, it was only 1:00 am. We had five and three quarter hours left and neither of us had anywhere to go. We decided to rent a couple of motel rooms on the outskirts of town. I kept replaying Randall’s story over and over in my head. Why would the Russians be shipping in military grade equipment and that many weapons? I didn’t know, but I did know I had to find this Lyndsay girl soon, because I feared she might be in more trouble than I am.

We got to a motel named Sleepytown 7. It was cozy, nothing like maybe a 3 or 4 star hotel, or even a 2 but it was somewhere to stay and get some rest until Randall’s flight left. We shared a room so one of us could keep an eye out while the other got a little sleep. I knew and Randall did as well that the Russians at the club were tracking us the moment we left the manager’s office. Who knew what kind of resources they had. It’s not impossible that they might have satellite tacking abilities or something of similar sort. We had to be careful and we had to watch each other’s backs. Randall got himself mixed up in this mess but I only deepened his involvement and trouble in it. I knew the Russians would be soon to follow as we walked into the motel room, just I hoped we would have enough time to get Randall out of town. They hadn’t threatened me, but if they found Randall again in their business, I fear he wouldn’t be so lucky this time. Later my fears would come true.

My eyes were dropping as I stared through the blinds watching for any movement outside. I had my pistol in my hand and my finger on the trigger just in case the entire night. Randall had dosed off the bed about three hours ago. It was 6:00 we needed to get moving to the airport to get him out of here and safe. Nothing was moving outside, the road and parking lot of the motel was dead entirely.
“Randall. Get up, we need to go.” I said to him walking over and shaking his shoulder. Randall jumped awake,
“Any sight of them? Are we really alright?” he asked. The surprise in his voice was everything but reassuring, I guess he made himself believe he wouldn’t be waking up.
“No sight of them all night, I think maybe we got away cleanly.” I said, hearing the lie shine through clearly in my own voice.
“Or they’re waiting for us.” Randall said, looking afraid.
“We’ll be alright, the airport isn’t far from here, but we need to get moving.” I told him placing my gun back in the dockers clutch. Randall slid out of the bed, stretched his back, twisted right then left and followed me to the door. We didn’t have any bags or anything, just what we had on our backs and in our pockets.

I turned the key in at the desk and walked to the S5 where Randall was waiting. I unlocked the door and he got in on the passenger side. I got in the driver’s seat and started the engine, and we pulled out towards the airport. There was still no sign of us being followed, but I didn’t let my guard drop. Randall’s eyes were locked on the mirror on his side, making sure no one was following us; he seemed to get nervous every time a car would wind up behind us. We made it to the airport without any problems and I parked the car in the garage. I was going to make sure Randall got to where there were people around. No one, especially not some Russian men, is going to kill a man in the middle of a crowd, it just doesn’t happen. I walked with him inside and got his ticket at the counter for him.
“Thanks for sticking with me” Randall said to me outstretching his hand.
“It’s my fault you got dragged back into this. Have a safe flight and keep your head down, you’re safe now.” I said trying to sound as convincing and reassuring as possible. Randall didn’t smile. We shook hands and he turned and went up the stairs of the small airport to his gate for his plane. I left and got back in my car and drove around to where I could see the runway. The Rebus airport was small; it flew to most places, luckily to where Randall needed to go. Security wasn’t as tight but it was still impossible to get through easily without hassle. I waited for maybe twenty minutes then I saw flight 132 on the runway. My stomach sank, because I knew something was wrong.

The plane drove down the runway; time seemed to be moving in slow motion, I was anxious to see the plane get off the ground so I knew that I didn’t get someone hurt in all this. I saw the plane turn its wheels and face its nose down the runway; I heard the jet turbines revving up as the plane started to pull away towards takeoff. Everything seemed fine; maybe my feeling was just expecting the worst like I did most of the time. The plane gained more and more speed and the wheels started to lift off the ground. The sound of the jet engines hummed in my ears and shook my car. My nerves were getting to me and I felt like I was in a horror movie. I was unsure and worried something would go wrong, but nothing did. The nose of the plane tilted up as the pilot pulled back on the controls and the plane lifted into the air smoothly. It gained altitude at a good pace and then turned towards its destination. Randall got away.

I started the car and started to put it in reverse when the sky lit up in a fiery red fireball. Smoke filled the air, and I could hear the screams from inside the airport. In my rearview mirror I could see the debris of flight 132 collapsing to the ground from a ball of flame and smoke. The ground shook as the nose hit first, then the wings and the tail. The back of the plane exploded when it hit the ground, I assumed whatever fuel was left ignited the explosion. Ambulances and fire trucks were racing to the scene. I could see all the people running over to help, and all the people in the airport staring out of the window. I knew everyone of them would not be flying that day. As the final debris rained down and the sky cleared I came to the realization that this was no pilot error and this was no accident. Randall was right the entire time, and the Russians were waiting for us, patiently. Patience scared me.

I pulled away. I knew there was nothing I could do and no one could have survived that wreck. As I got onto the main road I noticed a black SUV in my rear view mirror. It wasn’t coming up on my tail fast, or even following closely; it was just keeping a fair distance. I was being tailed, but they wanted me to know it. What worried me mostly was not the tail I had now, or that the Russians weren’t scared to make a scene, but that they had tied up one loose end now, I feared what they planned to do with the other. I had to find Lyndsay, and I had to do it quickly. I needed to lose the tail first. I took a turn up a mountain road and came to a stop sign. I waited for the SUV to stop behind me; I took in a deep breath, set my mirror in a better position and caught eye contact with the Russians following me. I winked at them and let off the clutch and slammed on the gas.

For an SUV it handled the roads pretty well, of course the tight corners going up gave me plenty of time to get away. What’s great about having a low sitting car is, the handling is almost flawless and having upgraded sway bars and performance suspension always helps. I took the turns smoothly, taking them on the inside and coming off on the outside, cutting down time with every turn between me and the SUV. They had no chance. The SUV lost its grip and spun out as I took another smooth turn and I easily sped off. It was easy to out maneuver something that heavy on roads like this. I had to get to the warehouse and find Lyndsay. I turned off the small roads and drove back to the main street towards the docks. I felt confident that I was in the clear from the Russian tail; there was no way that SUV could have kept up with me up there.

I headed towards the docks and had to stop at a red light. I turned on the radio and flipped through, trying to find some music when I heard the depressing sound of the engine behind me. I looked in my mirror and saw my old friends in the SUV tearing down the road. The vehicle was filthy and I assumed they took a couple “shortcuts” to work their way down but all the same they were behind me, and this time coming up fast. They knew where I was going and they were in no mood to let me get there. I slammed on the gas again letting off the clutch in the smooth motion you learn when driving a 6-speed car and sped off to get away. I maneuvered my way through the oncoming traffic since the light was still red and made it through to the other side without a scratch. The SUV got lucky and the light turned green by the time they went through. A high speed chase today was just what I wanted in my agenda.

I turned on to a larger road to avoid pedestrians. The SUV, now in an even match with me was catching up fast. I saw a man lean out of the passenger window with an assault rifle. At first I assumed it was just to scare me and distract me, at least I did until the man started firing shots at my back glass and my tires. I pulled the handbrake and took a sharp left turn and dropped the car back into first to get more torque on the wheels and continued down the road. The SUV followed, not as cleanly, they ran over the curb but were still behind me. The rata-tat-tat-tat of the machine gun echoed through the sheets and the horrified looks of the pedestrians filled the sidewalks. People were ducking and diving left and right, going into whatever building they could find. I took a sharp right and then another quick left into an alley, just wide enough for my car. I laid on the horn to make sure everyone was clear out of the way. The SUV came up to the entrance but was too large. This time they really couldn’t follow me. I drove through the alley and found the end. It was clear; I slowed down slightly to make sure I could get out without killing anyone when I had to slam on the breaks. The SUV blocked the exit.

Three men got out, one from the passenger’s seat and two from the back seats, one man was sitting through the sunroof, all were armed with automatic rifles, their sights aimed at me. It seemed I only had two choices, get out and beg, or slam into them all and die with a fight. The moment was tense, it seemed like hours went by, when really only seconds did. One of the men shouted in Russian I assumed he said something along the lines of get out or die. While he shouted, I found my third option. I revved the engine of my S5 and dropped it in reverse. I wasn’t sure if I could make it out of here in one piece, but you never know until your try. I let off the clutch, pressed the gas and proceeded down the thin alley, just wide enough to where the edges of my car’s mirrors only scraped occasionally. It was hectic, the Russians opened fire and bullets came flying in. One cut the seat beside my head others were aimed at my tires; some went straight through the back window. I was focused, in too much to really notice. I backed out of the alley going 50mph there was traffic at the exit but I had no choice. I leaned out of the window and for the first time drew my gun and fired five shots at the Russians, each one hit their marks perfectly. The one on the right got a bullet in the heart, the one in the center got one in the neck, the one on the left got two in the chest and the one out of the sunroof got one in the head. They all fell to the ground, I could see the blood pooling around them. Blood dripped from the top of the SUV from where I shot the guy in the sunroof. I fired one more shot. It flew straight and true and right through the passenger window into the head of the driver. He fell face first onto the steering wheel and his horn blared. I pulled out of the alley way and did a quick 180 turn to face the direction of the docks and the warehouse where Lyndsay was being kept.

I sped down the road, and I kept dozing off to the shooting. I had never pulled my gun before and shot someone. But I didn’t feel guilty, it was self defense, but it was weird. I didn’t know where I learned to shoot, but I had always had good aim, ever since I could remember. My dad was in Special Forces from what my aunt told me when I was growing up. She always told me that is all she knew about him, but I had a feeling there was always more. I didn’t care then, and I don’t care now. But maybe I got it from him, maybe not. I kept seeing the faces of the Russians, and the blood beneath them when they hit the ground. My daydream stopped short when I almost ran a red light. I slammed on the brakes and skidded to a stop. A police officer flashed his lights from a parking lot behind me and my heart sank.

The light turned green and the officer followed me with his sirens on, not the sound, just the lights. I pulled over to the side of the road and put the car in neutral. I had a choice and I wasn’t sure which one to go with. I could let him talk to me and try my best to talk my way out of it, which is most likely not going to happen since there were police officers breaking down my door, or I could try to lose the police as a tail too. As the cop got out of his car and walked closer, I chose the latter one and put the car back in first gear.

The cop put his hand on my trunk and walked up to my window. Slowly I rolled it down.
“Not paying attention are we sir?” he asked my sounding, cheerful. He didn’t recognize me which was good.
“No sir, I was day dreaming.” I answered, I looked in front of me, no cars and no pedestrians, now was the perfect time. “I think you dropped something officer, right there on the ground” I said pointing down below the side of the car, the officer looked down and bent forward a little. I quickly opened the car door and slammed it into his chest and lower body, knocking him to the ground with a thud, the air was knocked out of him and he had to take a deep breath. By the time he was finished breathing in, I was already miles away.

After I got away from the officer who I assaulted (I am really building up a record) I finally made my way to the docks. It was busy, of course. There were workers, and people all over. It wouldn’t be easy, but I knew that I could get in. Rebus didn’t have a huge shipping port but it was big enough for some major suppliers to ship stuff in. The entire docks were fenced in with a fence to tall to climb in the daylight, and only one entrance and exit gate that was watched by a guard constantly. I could just flash my detectives badge to the guard and he would let me in, but I had to be careful flashing any kind of badge around here. I decided to try my luck with the guard, it was the only way in and I didn’t have a lot of time.

I drove to the entrance gate and rolled down the window of the S5.
“Hello sir, do you have business at the docks?” asked the guard at the gate.
“Yes sir, I am here for an ongoing investigation” I answered, and although I regretted it as soon as I did it, I showed him my detective’s badge.
“Very well detective Penn, I will let you in, just don’t get in the way. There was a detective here the other day, cute girl, I don’t know what happened to her.” Answered the guard. The little orange barricade and front of my car lifted and I entered the docks as the barricade closed behind me. I drove towards the storage warehouses on my left, to the right were the actual docks and the shipping offices. Everything seemed to be normal. There were at least 10 warehouses and I had no idea where to start, I didn’t even know what to look for until I saw Vaughn Nightly’s Mercedes parked beside the last warehouse and one of the black SUVs behind it. I saw the old man getting in his car and three armed men with him and the car drove off, I turned my head as it came towards me and passed me. The SUV stayed in its place. There were still guys in there, but that’s where Lyndsay was, I knew it.

I pulled up beside the SUV parked beside the warehouse. I opened my lock pick set and pulled out one of the tools. I walked over to the SUV and one by one removed the tire caps and let the air out of the tires. After all the tires on the SUV were flat I replaced my lock pick tool and closed it back up. I scanned the outside of the warehouse. There was a door here where my S5 was parked a large loading door in the front for the trailers and another door at the back of the warehouse. I decided the back door would be my best point of entry. The back door of the warehouse was locked, but wasn’t hard to pick. As I heard the satisfying click and felt the knob give way I walked into the back of the warehouse slowly and carefully. I heard people speaking in Russian at the other end, near the other door. I closed the door as quietly as I could behind me and drew my gun. Hopefully I wouldn’t need it again. But I wanted to be prepared just in case; my first task was to get Lyndsay out of here, second was to do so without anyone getting hurt, or killed.

I weaved between shelves of different crates and boxes of all sizes, all of them had Russian writing all over them and I couldn’t read a word of it. As I walked around another shelve I saw four men, none of them holding guns, speaking to each other and laughing smoking cigarettes in front of a chair. In the chair, tied down was a beautiful brown headed girl. There she was, and the picture didn’t do her any justice. But I had no time to stare; I had to get her out of here. The best idea I thought of was another distraction, like the card trick at the club, but maybe a little flashier. I stuck my gun back in its holster and snuck back around the shelves and looked around for something I could use to make a distraction. There were plenty of crates and boxes I could easily just push over and hope they came running over, but there was guarantee that I could even push the box. After hearing Randall’s story I had a feeling they were full of military grade equipment, and military grade equipment is heavy.

I decided on another solution. I snuck back outside of the warehouse and went to the SUV. I picked the lock of the car door and opened it up; I found two beer bottles in the cup holders and a six pack in the back seat. I laughed to myself, drinking Russians was just so cliché. I took one of the beer bottles and I popped the hood and walked around to the front of the car. It took me a minute but I tore off the air hose from the air intake. I went back into the car and popped open the gas door. I stuck the air hose as far down into the gas tank as I could and still have some end on my side. I placed the other end of the tube in my mouth and sucked like it was a straw to siphon the gas out of the SUV. I coughed when the gas started flowing into my mouth. I stuck the end of the hose into the beer bottle and watched as some gas began to fill it up. I repeated the process to get the beer bottle halfway filled and then stopped, almost gagging to death on the taste of gasoline. I closed the gas door, threw the air hose away and went back to the inside of the SUV. I looked around for a minute and luckily found some newspaper and a lighter. I tore one sheet, rolled it up and stuck one end into the bottle and left the other one out. I shut the door of the SUV and took in a deep breath. Now that I had my flashy distraction made, I snuck back inside the warehouse.

The Russians, hadn’t moved, they were still in the exact same spot as before. The girl was still there as well. It took a lot of will power not to pause and stare. I walked as close to the Russians as I could get and then looked for a good spot to release my flashy new toy. Near the front of the warehouse, where the loading door were four crates stacked atop one another in a nice neat pattern, that would be the perfect spot. I lit the newspaper with the lighter and leaned back for a good clean throw. Once the flame burned strongly I threw the bottle and watched it fly through the air and crash into the four crates. Lyndsay’s eyes caught the bottle in the air and I watched as her head followed it to the ground. My new toy landed with a crack. The gasoline immediately went into the flame, and the crates with it. The Russians almost jumped back a yard. They all dropped their cigarettes and rushed over to the flame. I wasn’t sure what they thought they could accomplish without water or anything but that’s exactly what I wanted. I ran out from behind the shelves and ran straight to where Lyndsay was tied. I immediately started to untied her from the chair. She turned to look at me. I didn’t meet eye contact with her, not yet, it would distract me. I got her hands untied and was working on her feet when I heard one of the Russians shout. They had turned from the flame to notice their intruder. The one shouting was pointing at me and the others were drawing weapons. I untied the last knot of the rope holding Lyndsay’s feet down before the shooting began.

In a smooth, blindingly quick motion I grabbed Lyndsay’s arm with my left and drew my gun with my right. Pulling her towards me and towards the exit I turned and shot over my shoulder. I shot six rounds, the last six rounds in my clip. Each bullet again flew perfectly and hit their marks exactly. I turned and pulled Lyndsay through the door as the four Russians fell behind me. Each got a bullet to the head, the other two shot the fully automatic SMGs two of them men revealed and armed themselves with disarming them. I guess the smarter thing to do would have been to disarm them and then not killed them, but I learned something that day. In the moments of the shooting and running out with Lyndsay as the distraction I made caught fire to other shelves and the warehouse began to burn down. I learned that when it came down to it, and the shooting started, my hand aimed to kill, and only to kill. Me and Lyndsay made it out and got into my car. While running out she tore the tape holding her mouth closed and asked a simple question. “Who are you?” her voice was beautiful and it seemed to make me forget that I just killed four more Russians and buried myself even deeper into this mess. I didn’t answer her, just started the car, let off the clutch and sped off to get out. Lyndsay buckled her seat belt, no questions asked and sat quietly as I dodged the workers and broke the orange barricade at the entrance, hearing the guard at the door shouting at me. Everyone stared as the black S5 tore through the docks and out onto the road and a moment later it was gone. My first task was over, I got Lyndsay out. But now I had to stop the bigger issue at hand.

Police sirens filled the air as we headed to the outskirts of Rebus, everyone would hear about the burned down warehouse where nothing was found because I am sure the Russians had a planned failsafe. No one would answer any questions and whatever was about to happen would simple pause. I needed to get some answers and I needed to stop this mess. That’s when Lyndsay spoke again, in that angelic and terrific voice, “Thank you for your help back there.” I looked over at her. I pulled the car into a gas station and parked backed into a parking space so I could watch to see if anyone was following us. I looked at Lyndsay. Now that the chaos was over I really did see how beautiful she was. Her hair was a beautiful brown that hung below her shoulders and her eyes glowed radiantly. She had a bruise on her cheek, I assume from where she was beaten by the Russians at the docks, but she was still beautiful. While I looked at her, she started to speak again, this time, introducing herself.
“My name is Lyndsay Nadine and I know what the Russians are planning, and I know what to do to stop it.”

I walked out of the gas station with two drinks and a bag of chips. I know it wasn't a lot and I am sure Lyndsay was hungry but I thought it was enough for now. Who knows how long she had been in there, I didn't even know if she knew how long she was in there. I had to get some answers. As I walked back to the car Lyndsay was standing outside, learning against the driver’s door.
"You never told me your name." She asked me as I handed her one of the drinks. She opened it up and drank half the bottle of the flavored water in one gulp.
"Vitaly. Vitaly Penn." I answered her as she finished drinking.
"And you are just some random person that decided to go to a Russian owned warehouse and set it on fire?" she asked taking another huge drink of the bottle of water, finishing it off. I took the empty bottle from her hands and handed her the second one. This one she drank as a normal person would.
"I am a private investigator; I was hired to find you by a Mr. Vaughn Nightly." I answered. At the sound of his name Lyndsay stopped drinking and stared at me.
"Vaughn Nightly. CEO of Nightly Incorporated?" she asked me, her voice tense.
"Or as you wrote on your apartment window, the 'Liar'" I answered. She looked surprised for a moment.
"You've been in my apartment?" at first I thought it was an accusation but then she smiled and laughed. She took another drink, and then the bag of chips from my hand and tore it open.
"It was my job." I said trying to justify myself although she really didn't seem that upset about it. Lyndsay laughed again, her laugh was beautiful and her eyes lit up every time she smiled.
"It'll be nice to finally be home again." she said to me, still eating the chips. I looked at her with a guilty look.
"Well. About your apartment, it uh, burned down." I said to her smiling an even guiltier smile. "After I went there looking for a place to start I met a man named Timmy who set it on fire, he got away before I could catch him."
"My home burned down?!" Lyndsay said, almost shouting. She looked down at the chips and mumbled under her breath, "bet you went through my mail too."
"I'm sorry." I replied. Lyndsay looked up again and sighed.
"Timmy is the head of the security at Nightly Incorporated. Timothy Johnson, Mr. Vaughn Nightly's number two man." Lyndsay said to me finishing the bag of chips and balling it up. She finished the second bottle of water and I took the trash and threw it away in the trash can near the side of the gas station. Lyndsay walked around to the passenger door and got in, I got in on the driver’s side.
"What all do you know about what's going on?" I asked her as she put her seatbelt on.
"Drive where I tell you too. I'll talk as we get there." she replied pointing towards the road. I started the car and pulled out of the parking lot taking a left back towards town and the way she pointed. Lyndsay took in a deep breath and then started to tell me her story.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“I assure you Miss Nadine there is no need for an investigation involving me and my company.” Vaughn Nightly said to me. I was in his office at the top of Nightly Incorporated. I knew he was lying, otherwise I wouldn’t have been sent there by my company. I worked for the IAA, International Affairs Agency. We were under presidential orders only, higher than the FBI or the CIA. We worked alongside the DOD in secret. Most of our agents worked over seas in other countries but I was assigned especially to this task. The IAA had strong beliefs that Nightly Incorporated was a Russian conspiracy cover up and there was something bigger at hand other than just an investment business.
“Mr. Nightly, I assure you all things will go by smoothly and quickly if you just cooperate and let me see your business files. If you do not comply willingly I will simply just get the warrant to do so.” I told Mr. Nightly, for at least the seventeenth time.
“I can’t do that. See I work for a man who still resides in Russia. A powerful man that doesn’t take lightly to people snooping into his business’s personal matters.” Mr. Nightly replied. I knew who his boss was. We had agents following his every move in Russia. Drake Petrov. A horrible man. Wanted by the IAA, the FBI, and the CIA for countless amounts of things, but we couldn’t touch him, and couldn’t connect him with anything, but we all knew he was guilty.
“Then call your boss.” I said to Mr. Nightly nodding my head towards the phone on his desk. Mr. Nightly hesitated for a moment, I watched his hands as one moved towards the phone but the other stayed still. He stopped.
“I can’t do that Miss Nadine, I am sorry. I will have to ask you to leave now, I have business matters to attend to.” He said to me. He pushed the intercom on the phone. “Security to my office.” He said to whoever was listening. “I am sorry but I’ll have to get security to escort you out so you don’t go snooping around.” He said to me. I nodded and stood up. He outstretched his hand but I ignored him. I walked to the door of his office and then turned back around.
“Whatever you are hiding Mr. Nightly, the people I work for will find it.” I said to him. He smiled and chuckled.
“I’ve got nothing to hide” he replied casually. Security opened the office door and I walked out with them. They walked me out to the entrance of the building, following me from Vaughn Nightly’s office, through the elevator and stood at the entrance when I walked out. I knew this wouldn’t go over easy so I had to get a little creative.

I had heard that the Russians had a warehouse over on the docks. I decided a little looking around would be necessary for this case. I walked to my car in the garage across the street and got it. The IAA supplied all their domestic agents with navy blue 2005 Pontiac G6’s. I got in my car and started the engine. Some of the other agents chose to have a manual car but I hated driving stick shift so I stuck with the automatic. It wasn’t too late in the day only around 5:00pm but I wanted to wait till the docks were closed before I went in. I drove home and stayed there until 8:00 later that night. I left my apartment and headed for the docks. I didn’t think anyone would be there so I knew this would be a good time. There was still a guard at the gate but he looked lazy and uninterested. I drove up and rolled down the window.
“Docks are closed” he said to me without looking up.
“I have important business there.” The guard almost fell out of his leaned back chair when he heard my voice, I guess he didn’t expect a woman. He looked over at me funny and stared for a moment then shook his head.
“I can’t let you in without some ID.” He said smiling, scarily at me. “No matter how cute you are.” I pulled out my driver’s license and the badge the IAA gives its agents to look like just another police badge.
“Detective Nadine. Alright, have a nice night, be careful.” The guard said pressing a button. The orange barricade in front of my car lifted and I drove into the docks. I saw the warehouses on the left. I drove up and parked my car behind a trailer far enough back so it would be out of sight. I got out of the car and locked the doors. As I walked towards the warehouses I began to hear voices. Two men speaking Russian to one another. I got closer, hiding between crates, trailers and walls. I hid behind a trailer right beside the two men speaking Russian. One of the men was Mr. Nightly, and two of his guards, maybe the same guys that escorted me out. Another was his boss. Drake Petrov, a disgusting man. I heard a noise on the trailer above me and looked up. There was nothing there. I assumed it was the wind and went back to paying attention to the conversation. Mr. Nightly was reassuring his boss that nothing was wrong. Mr. Petrov had heard about me and Mr. Nightly’s meeting today and was worried. Vaughn lied through his teeth saying no one suspected a thing. I saw more men loading a trailer behind the two Russians. I waited till the conversation ended and the two men shook hands and the men loading the trailers all finished, got into their cars and drove off. Without wasting a single second I ran over to the three trailers. I searched around for anything on the outside before I went to open the far trailer on the right. As I walked around the corner I ran into a group of four Russians, armed with automatic rifles. They turned and saw me and I knew I was screwed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Lyndsay finished her story telling of the part where the Russians found her wire and threatened her, and then Randall fell out of the trailer. She called him that stupid guy. She told me of how she left drove her car out of the docks and parked it in the same garage she parked in outside of Nightly Incorporated. “I knew that I couldn’t go home, I knew they’d be waiting for me.” Lyndsay told me. She looked sad and guilty for a moment when I told her that Randall was my friend and had died in a plane crash that I knew was planned by the Russians to tie up one of the loose ends. I filled Lyndsay in on my side of the story, starting with my meeting with Mr. Nightly at the Café and going to her apartment and Timmy shooting then the police breaking into my office. I told of the club with Randall and then the plane explosion. I left out the part of the alley way. Lyndsay saw me shoot the four in the warehouse, I didn’t want her to think I was on a killing spree. Lyndsay was giving me directions to wherever we were going the entire time she and I were talking. We found ourselves in front of a large building, a skyscraper; at the top was a huge sign that read Nightly Incorporated. Lyndsay looked at me. “There is the garage I parked at over there” Lyndsay said pointing to a parking garage across the street from the building. I drove to the third floor and parked beside what Lyndsay pointed out to be her car.
“Now what?” I asked her as we sat in my S5.
“I don’t know. I have to contact my boss and see what he wants me to do now.” She replied.
“You never finished earlier. You said you knew what they were planning.” I said to her.
“I don’t know if I am at liberty to tell you their plans.” She answered. She sat still for a moment, thinking and then snapper her fingers. “I got it; let me call my boss from my phone in my car. I’ll tell him about you and see what he wants us to do next.”

Lyndsay got out of my car and opened the passenger side of hers. She pulled out a bag and put it on top of her car and dug through it, revealing a cell phone. She dialed a number and held it to her ear. I saw her smile after a moment.
“It’s good to hear your voice to Dan. I have good news and bad news.” Lyndsay paused.
“The bad news is I didn’t find much on the Russians.” Lyndsay paused again.
“The good news is, I think we might have found another ally. He’s a private eye here in Rebus and the Russians framed him for my murder.” She paused again and looked surprised.
“Yeah, that’s him. How’d you know?” she asked. She paused and nodded.
“Alright, we’ll be there in a minute.” Lyndsay pressed the end button on the phone, closed it, put it back in her bag and shut her car door and got back in my car with me. I couldn’t help but smile, I was worried I would have to say bye now.
“He wants to see us at his office as soon as possible.” She said to me shutting the door and putting her seatbelt on. I nodded and dropped the car in reverse, taking directions from her again to get to the IAA main office.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The IAA had their office in Seattle Washington. It was at least a two hour drive. Most of the trip Lyndsay told me more about herself. Where she was born (Richmond, Virginia), she told me about her siblings that still lived there and her parents that passed away four years ago. She told me how she started off as a cop in Richmond but was recruited by the IAA three years later. She asked about me when she finished. I sat quiet after she asked and just shook my head. “There’s nothing to talk about for me” I answered her. She looked upset but didn’t let it go.
“I have to know more than a name if I am going to trust you.” She said to me, not dropping her stare. I sighed and thought where to start. I didn’t like talking about my past, and I didn’t like telling people about my mother dying and my father giving me away to my aunt, but she was right. This was a two way street and I needed to give her reasons to trust me.
“I never met my father, and my mother died giving birth to me. I didn’t know either of their names. They weren’t married. My aunt used to tell me that my father was in the Special Forces for the United States army and that’s all she knew about him, but I knew she was lying. I could see it in her eyes. I didn’t ask that often, because I didn’t care. I was a normal kid growing up, no major problems, didn’t cause trouble. I went through college in Atlanta and got my degree and license for private investigating and moved to Rebus to get away from everyone. I never thought much of my father, but I did think of my mother. Nobody knew her name and had no idea what she looked like but I knew she was a wonderful person. I could just tell. She could have changed the world I am sure. I hate that she died giving birth to me. I feel that if she didn’t leave then neither should I. But maybe that’s just a guilty conscience. My aunt always told me it wasn’t my fault my mother died, but I still have always felt it was. When I first moved to Rebus I got a call from my aunt saying my father was reported dead. I told her that I was glad and the world was better without him anyways. She scolded me like she always does and then told me she was there if I needed anything. I haven’t talked to her since. I loved my Aunt, but she’s done enough for me already, and so I faded from her life to spare her.”

Lyndsay looked at me when I was finished with care in her eyes.
“I’m sorry Vitaly. I didn’t know” she said to me touching my arm. I nodded.
“No harm done, I just don’t like to think about him and how he gave me away and let her just die.” I said to her. The rest of the trip was silent until we got to Seattle and to the IAA office. I knew Lyndsay felt guilty about bringing up my past and I wanted to help. But when I tried to talk to her, I felt tongue tied and couldn’t get out any words. I think I was starting to love her. Oh no.

We made it to a large building towards the middle of Seattle, Washington. It was getting late and was around 6 in the evening. Lyndsay pointed at it, “That’s the main office of the IAA” she said. I nodded and parked the car across the street on the curb. I was in Seattle now and I didn’t think I needed to stay as hidden as I was in Rebus. We got out of the car; I clicked the button to lock the doors behind us, crossed the street and entered the building.

It wasn’t a grand entrance, and looked more of just another office building. People rushed this way and that with briefcases and files in their hands. The only difference was, most offices closed at five and all these people running to and from were trained agents to defend the country. Lyndsay led me to three elevators to the left and clicked the button to call it down. Someone waved at her and she waved back smiling. The elevator doors opened and we stepped in. Lyndsay clicked the button for the top floor and a panel of numbers slid out from under the floor buttons. She looked at me and smiled. “You’ll need to turn around, sorry.” She said to me shrugging. I chuckled a little and turned. Surprisingly the buttons on the number keypad still made a noise. I heard the panel slide back and Lyndsay tapped my shoulder “All done.” She said.

We watched as the elevators digital floor reader went past floor after floor until finally it stopped on 28 out of 30 I think. I assumed the last two floors were for maintenance and emergencies only or maybe not. The Elevator doors opened revealing a waiting room, a lady sitting behind a desk, and two double doors with two armed men standing at either door. When we walked in the lady behind the desk looked up, and smiled at the sight of Lyndsay, and then looked confused when she saw me. The guards at the door just straightened out more. I thought if they did it again their shoulders would probably snap backwards.
“Welcome back Agent Nadine!” said the lady at the desk excitedly standing up and smiling at Lyndsay.
“It’s great to see you again Janet.” Lyndsay replied smiling, “John, Greg, it’s good to see you guys again” she said to the guards, the both nodded at her. All the eyes in the room then shifted to me and I felt like a side show at a circus.
“Who is he?” asked Janet, the lady behind the desk.
“He helped me with my current case, and quite honestly, saved me from a huge mess.” Lyndsay replied. Janet smiled at me,
“Pleasure to meet you sir, my name is Janet, I am the receptionist for Mr. Russel.” She said in a pleasant voice.
“Vitaly Penn.” I replied nodding and smiling as best I could. I wasn’t good at meeting new people, I always felt awkward and unwanted. Janet turned back to Lyndsay,
“He’s in there and waiting so you two can just go right in.” she said to her. The guards stepped aside and opened the doors for the two of us. They nodded as Lyndsay walked in and stared as I did.

The office was nice. It had a large window that seemed to behind a nice desk with a man in a black chair sitting behind it staring out of the window. To the right were bookshelves with all kinds of books and to the left was another door. The chair turned around and the man in it stood up quickly, a huge smile on his face. Lyndsay really put an impression on these people.
“Lyndsay! It’s great to see you in one piece!” said the man out stretching his hand. Lyndsay walked to the desk and shook his hand,
“Great to be back sir” she replied to him. There were two chairs in front of the desk and the man motioned for Lyndsay to sit as he did, I was still unsure, so I stayed standing. The man looked up at me. He wasn’t short, but wasn’t tall either. He had black hair that was short and thin and had black eyes. The type of eyes that have seen many things that most people probably didn’t even know happened.
“This guy?” he asked to Lyndsay, not dropping his stare from me. I didn’t look away, but I did stay aware. If you dropped eye contact with someone they could know you didn’t have confidence, and that could cause problems. I knew that this man, Dan Russel was testing me from the moment I walked in.
“Yes sir, this is him. Broke me out of the Russian warehouse.” The man kept staring at me, and then smiled.
“I must thank you then, you brought back our best agent Mr.?” he stopped short waiting for me to fill in my name.
“Penn, Vitaly Penn.” I answered, outstretching my hand. The man stood, shook my hand, and then sat back down nodding for me to sit as well. I sat down, and relaxed a little.
“Well, I have to ask exactly how you got tied into this mess. Agent Nadine tells me you were framed?” Mr. Russel asked me.
“Yes sir. I was hired by Vaughn Nightly to find Lyn-“I stopped, “Agent Nadine. He claimed her as his daughter. I met a man named Timmy. Timothy Johnson. He took my card and then set Agent Nadine’s apartment on fire. I assumed he tipped off the police and fire station about me being there and probably left my card out in the open. I was framed for Arson and the killing of the landlord and now for resisting arrest.” I answered.
“That’s a hell of a day you had there.” Mr. Russel said to me. “How did you save Agent Nadine?” Lyndsay laughed.
“Well it’s a funny story. He burned down the Russian warehouse with some kind of firebomb.” She said to Mr. Russel. He looked surprised for a moment and then looked at me.
“You burned down their warehouse? Well you’re in deep now. Did any of them get away?” he asked me.
“No sir.” I said looking to the side out of the window. I still wasn’t proud of killing the nine Russians and I didn’t want to bring it up.
“You get used to it son.” Mr. Russel said to me. “The first eight or nine are hard, but after the tenth you realize it’s for the best.” I nodded but kept looking out of the window.
“Alright so let’s get to business” said Mr. Russel. “We need to get into Nightly Incorporated and get whatever they’re trying to hide and I feel that you two are the best ones for the job.” I looked back at him with a questioning look.
“You two?” I asked.
“Yes sir Mr. Penn, as of now, you’re an honorary IAA agent until this mess is cleared up. You obviously have proven yourself to be capable of working with us.” He answered. Lyndsay nodded, smiling at me.
“What do you say? Partners?” she asked. I nodded.
“Are you sure Mr. Russel? I mean you guys train all of your agents, and I never received any kind of training.” I responded, being doubtful.
“Answer me this. What’s the combination for my office floor in the elevator?” he asked me. Lyndsay looked confused.
“I told him to turn away, how could he know if he wasn’t looking?” She asked. Mr. Russel smiled at her,
“He listened.” He said. I sighed; he was right, I listened to the code and figured it out by how Lyndsay pressed the buttons.
“1-7-5-3” I answered. Mr. Russel smiled and Lyndsay looked at me totally surprised.
“I think you can handle yourself Mr. Penn. Besides, you’ve already handled at least nine Russians without even having to reload.” He said to me. I looked at him surprised and sat back.
“How did you know about the alley?” I asked.
“We have eyes all over Mr. Penn and we were watching the Russians. We were pleasantly surprised when we saw some man in a little Audi car take five of them down with six shots. He said to me. I didn’t answer. Lyndsay was still looking at me from before, she had a puzzled look.
“Let’s move on.” She said to Mr. Russel a moment later. Mr. Russel nodded and continued with his plan.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

It was late, around midnight when we arrived back in Rebus and Lyndsay and I were on the top of the Nightly Incorporated building. We were dropped in by a helicopter. We walked over to the maintenance door and I she picked the lock quickly. “Alright, it’s open” she said aloud but not to me.
“Okay, on the count of three we’ll cut the power to silence the alarm, you’ll have ten minutes to get into the safe in Mr. Nightly’s office and get out.” Replied Mr. Russel on our earpieces. “1…2….3” Mr. Russel counted. Lyndsay opened the door on three and we rushed in closing the door behind us. We put on our night vision goggles given to us from the IAA armory for this heist and went towards the stairs. We went down a single floor by the stairs and then opened the door to the maintenance room. We went to the window. Lyndsay and I pulled out our glass cutters and cut out enough for both of us to go through we pushed the window in so we could lay it down and it not make a shattering sound. We attached are rappelling hooks to the frame and clipped the rope through it and through the hooks on our belts. Lyndsay looked over at me standing with her back against the window the same way I was.
“Ready?” she asked.
“Ready.” I responded. We both took in a deep breath and jumped backwards out of the window catching against the side of the building with our feet. We rappelled down, jumping over the windows until we went down three floors to Mr. Nightly’s office. At the IAA debriefing they told me not to look down when rappelling, I did anyways and my stomach turned. We stopped just above the windows to Mr. Nightly’s office. I looked at Lyndsay and gave her the thumbs up. She nodded back and we both turned ourselves in our harnesses to where we were facing the ground. We stepped down slowly and peeked through the top of the window. There were three guys in the room. They were all standing by the door in. I looked at Lyndsay who drew her pistol. The IAA equipped us with silenced pistols for this mission. Although I hoped we wouldn’t have to use them, here it seemed we might. Maybe Mr. Russel was right and after the tenth or eleventh kill you got used to it. I sighed to myself and drew my gun as well.

We turned back around in our harnesses and Lyndsay whispered aloud.
“We have three contacts in the office. Do we engage?” she asked.
“You are clear to engage Agent Nadine and Agent Penn.” Answered Mr. Russel. It was weird hearing me be referred to as Agent Penn at first, but now I liked the sound of it. Lyndsay looked over at me.
“On the count of three we breach.” She said. I nodded. “One….two…..three!” We pushed off the wall and kicked through the glass. The three men in the room were caught completely off guard. Lyndsay fired two shots and I shot one. The three guards fell without a sound before the shattered glass could hit the floor in the room. We waited for a moment and checked our watches. We still have seven minutes to get what we needed and get out. I unhooked my rappelling harness and walked to the door. I walked to the door and pressed my ear against it.
“We’re clear, go ahead and crack the safe” I said to Lyndsay. She unhooked herself and walked to the picture of Mr. Nightly and Mr. Petrov hanging on the far wall and took it off its hook. Behind it was a safe; Lyndsay pulled out a drill from her backpack and began to crack it. I had a feeling she could have done this mission herself but having the extra person being a lookout didn’t hurt I suppose. I stayed still and listened as best I could for any movement outside.
“Got it” Lyndsay said and opened the safe. She pulled out some files and a couple blueprints and put them in the bag she was carrying along with the drill. She closed the safe, replaced the picture. I turned towards her and she gave me the thumbs up. She walked towards the door. We had to leave this way. I listened again.
“We’re clear” I said quietly and began to open the door as Lyndsay pressed her back against the wall on the opposite side. When the door was open she crouched and went in looking immediately to the right as I walked in behind her looking towards the left. We were still clear. We stayed low as we walked towards the stairs to get out. I heard footsteps behind us as we turned the corner.
“We have contacts behind us.” I said to Lyndsay. Surprisingly she smiled.
“I got it, be ready to sprint up these stairs.” She said to me. She tapped her ear again and spoke to Mr. Russel. “We’re ready for pickup.”
“Helicopter is on its way.” Replied Mr. Russel. I walked to the door for the stairs and opened it waiting for Lyndsay. She pulled out what looked to be a can with a clip on top from her back, pulled a pin from it and tossed it towards where the footsteps were coming. She turned and ran towards me.
“Let’s go!” she said to me sprinting by. I followed after her and heard the sound of a muffled explosion and felt the room light up behind me in a brilliant white light as we left and the door shut behind us. We made it up the stairs and I checked my watch, we still had 2 minutes. We went through the maintenance room and out onto the roof. In the distance we could hear and see the IAA helicopter flying towards us. I shut the door to the roof behind us. The helicopter flew overhead and lowered down enough for Lyndsay to grab the landing rail and climb in. I locked the door back with the lockpick set and ran towards the helicopter. As I got closer the wind from the blades of the chopper made my hair fly and filled my ears. I grabbed the rail and climbed in just as the door to the roof flew open and Russians piled out. At least a dozen of them. They all saw the helicopter and opened fire. We got away without a scratch. But not as quietly as we had hoped. Vaughn Nightly and Drake Petrov would now know what was going on, and wouldn’t let this go over easy. The Russians would give some kind of reprisal to our actions. Who knew what they were capable of. I had a feeling about the whole mess and what was going to happen next. With the help of the IAA, we just sparked a war.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

We made it back to the roof of the IAA without any problems and Mr. Russel was waiting for us with a smile as me and Lyndsay got off of the helicopter.
“Did you get it?” He asked us. Lyndsay pulled out the files and blueprints from her bag and handed them to Mr. Russel. She smiled.
“Don’t I always?” she asked. Mr. Russel laughed and turned towards the door back in the building. The helicopter killed its engine and the blades started to slow down. The pilot got out and stretched his back. We walked back into the building and took the elevator back to Mr. Russel’s office. We sat down behind his desk and he unrolled the blueprint. Mr. Russel looked up at me and Lyndsay and then laid the blueprint on the desk. I never will forget the horror that went through me after what I saw on that paper.

Ever since the invention of the long range ballistic missiles and nuclear arms warfare has taken a change. War is feared much more now with these weapons of mass destruction. Considering that the United States alone has enough nuclear arms to blow up the world seven times over is fear in itself. After what I saw on that blueprint though, I have never been more scared of war in my entire life.
“What is it?” Lyndsay asked Mr. Russel.
“I think it’s some kind of missile system” he answered. I stared at the strange design on the grid of the blueprint. I couldn’t any of the notes or numbers because of course it was all in Russian but I could see the basis of what it was meant to do. It was meant to be aimed at the United States.
“What is the other blueprint?” I asked. Mr. Russel unrolled the second blueprint out of two and placed it on the table on top of the first one. This one was a little less frightening. It looked to be some kind of satellite dish. We still couldn’t read the information. On the blueprint the satellite was built and then mounted on a truck. That’s all we could see. Mr. Russel went to the intercom on his desk,
“Janet, get us a Russian translator in here immediately.” He said holding the button. When he let go there was no answer.
“Janet? Did you get that?” Mr. Russel said again into the intercom, there was still nothing. He looked up at us puzzled. I had a bad feeling and I walked over to Mr. Russel’s office window, and saw exactly what I feared.
There were Russian soldiers and agents all over the ground and around the building. At least eight black SUVs that we kept seeing were dropping off men and I had a feeling more were coming.
“Mr. Russel, I think it’s time we leave.” I said to them drawing my gun. They immediately walked to the window and looked down at the invasion. Mr. Russel looked at me,
“We need to move to the next floor.” He said to me. “Help me push my desk in front of this door.” We each got behind his desk and pushed it until it blocked the office door. Mr. Russel walked towards the other door in his office and I followed. Lyndsay was still looking out of the window.
“Agent Nadine.” Mr. Russel said. She stayed still.
“Agent Nadine!” he called again, and she still stayed, stunned.
“Lyndsay!” I shouted at her. Her head turned quickly and she stared at us for a second, then shook her head and ran over to us at the door. Mr. Russel used a key to unlock the second door and we all went through. When he shut the door behind us he locked it back and placed a metal bar so the door couldn’t open, not easily at least. We heard an explosion below.

The room we had entered was simple, but it served its purpose well. There were three metal closets on the back wall, and three windows on the right. Each window had an already attached zip line hanging from this building over to the parking garage next door. I wished I would have parked there and not on the road. Mr. Russel walked over to one of the closets and opened it up with a combination lock. He walked to second one and did the same.
“Take whatever you think we’ll need. I have a feeling we won’t be coming back anytime soon.” Mr. Russel said, turning to look at Lyndsay and me. Inside the first closet looked to be mostly guns and ammunition. But the second one was more of what I was looking at. Inside there were bullet proof vests, at least four of them, night vision goggles, thermal imaging goggles, binoculars, cameras, first aid kits and a duffle bag full of cash. Mr. Russel called my name,
“Vitaly. Catch.” He tossed me a belt with three compartments on it, each one held a full magazine of ammo rounds.
“I carry a berretta 92, these aren’t the rounds I use” I said opening the first pack and seeing the long bullets. Mr. Russel was digging in the other closet, and then produced a large rifle from it, he tossed it towards me.
“No, but they fit that. Say hello to your new friend. If you can fire that accurately with a pistol, I can’t wait to see what you can do with that baby.” He said smiling. I caught the gun in both hands, it wasn’t as heavy as it looked, but it wasn’t light either. There was a scope on top and a magazine attached at the bottom. I had never fired a gun like this, but it might come in handy so I pulled out the magazine, counted the 20 rounds in it and strapped it on my back.
“Now doesn’t he look nice?” Mr. Russel said to Lyndsay pointing at me. She smiled a little,
“A true IAA agent.” She said. I laughed slightly and pulled out three of the bullet proof vests from the closet and the duffle bag of cash, I stuffed all of the first aid kits into the duffle bag.
“Think we’ll need anything else from here?” I said tossing two of the vests to Lyndsay and Mr. Russel. I looked over at the third closet and then pointed at it. Mr. Russel shook his head.
“Nope, not right now at least. Let’s get out of here.” Mr. Russel said. I looked over at Lyndsay who picked up her vest and her newly acquired mp5 submachine gun. She had clipped on a belt of magazines as well.
“Are you alright?” I asked her.
“Yeah, I am fine, just…I already lost one home to the Russians and now I am losing another. It’s just a lot to take in. But come on, we don’t have time to get depressed. We have to move.” She said to me immediately rushing towards one of the windows. Mr. Russel was there waiting.
“You go first Penn.” He said to. I looked at him surprised. I had never used one of these things and I was hoping to catch how to by watching one of them.
“Maybe it’s better if one of you go.” I said back.
“I want you to get over there and watch our backs as we go. Test out your new friend, see how you like it.” Mr. Russel said back. I sighed and walked up to the window.
“Alright, just grab on, hold on tight and wait till it stops. Oh and before I forget, make sure you roll or bend your knees when you let go, don’t want you to break an ankle.” Mr. Russel said to me. He seemed too excited about all of this and I wondered if he missed being the one in the cross fire instead of the one telling people what to do. I grabbed onto the zip line, held on as tight as possible and jumped from the window.

The wind blew in my face and I had to squint my eyes as I flew down the zip line to the other side. I watched carefully as the top floor of the garage came closer and closer to my feet and I would have to jump off. I didn’t forget what Mr. Russel told me about rolling or bending my knees. I passed over the edge of the garage and right before I hit the end of the zip line I let go and dropped to a roll when my feet touched the ground. I landed fine and nothing was broken, but I didn’t have time to check even if there was a problem. I rushed back over to the edge of the garage and waved my hand back at the IAA building. I saw Lyndsay and Mr. Russel reaching up to hold the Zip Lines. Below I saw men looking up; they most have seen me come across. I guess Mr. Russel was right; I would get to try out my new ‘friend’. I slung the rifle around on its strap until it was in my hands. I took in a breath and looked through the sight and aimed down at the men preparing to open fire on Mr. Russel and Lyndsay as they came across. I steadied my hands and pulled the trigger.

The rifle had quite a recoil and my first shot missed its target but it got the attention of the Russians below and they focused back on me. Three of four of them took cover while maybe three more entered the bottom of the garage. I aimed back down the sight at the guys taking cover. I counted my shots as I fired. One shot hit a Russian in the leg and he fell gripping it. I fired again and hit this one in the arm. It flew back and I knew it was broken. He sat against the wall in writhing pain. Lyndsay and Mr. Russel passed over top of me as I fired two more shots. These two were aimed at two men that were heading towards the entrance of the garage. Both shots hit perfectly, one in the neck and one in the head. Both men fell to the ground and even from the 4th floor of the garage I could see the blood. I heard Mr. Russel and Lyndsay coming up behind me.
“We need to get out of here.” I said to them swinging the rifle around to sit on my back again. They nodded and we headed for the stairs.
“How do you like the rifle then Vitaly?” Mr. Russel asked me as we were entering the stairs.
“Got some kick to it in the shoulder.” I said. Mr. Russel laughed. Three gunshots flew over our heads and we took cover. I dropped behind a cement pillar and Mr. Russel and Lyndsay went behind a car to our left off of the stairs. The three Russians I saw earlier came up the ramp for the cars, the one in front shot at us again. I felt the hit of the bullets when they hit the pillar I was hiding behind. I leaned out and jerked back when a bullet flew by my face. I felt the heat as it went by. I saw Mr. Russel roll out from behind the car and fire three shots.
“One, Two and Three” he counted aloud as each shot hit one of the Russians. The first two landed in the chest, the second one was in the neck. They fell and we moved on.
“I don’t think they like you Vitaly!” Lyndsay shouted at me, “They’re always aiming at your first!” I laughed a little, but honestly she was right.
“Take it as a compliment! They see you as a threat” Mr. Russel said to me, breathing heavy. We were on the second floor now when more bullets came flying at us. This time we all rolled and ducked behind a minivan parked to our left. Mr. Russel was breathing heavy.
“Haven’t….ran…like this…for a while.” He panted. Lyndsay shook her head,
“Old man.” She said. He looked back at her with stern face.
“Old man, sir!” she said sarcastically. Mr. Russel rolled his eyes and leaned his head out. Bullets flew by and he jerked back.
“There are five of them, two on the left and three on the right.” He said to us. I drew my pistol from its clutch.
“I will take the three on the left” Mr. Russel said to me, “you get the two on the left with Agent Nadine.” Lyndsay sighed.
“You know you’re going to get killed one day with things like that” she said to him.
“I’d have it no other way” he replied. “On three then?” he said. Lyndsay and I nodded.
“One. Two. Three!” Mr. Russel rolled out to the right and fired three shots as me and Lyndsay rolled to the left and fired one each. All five shots hit their targets before the Russians even knew we moved. We regrouped to Mr. Russel’s position.
“We can’t go out of the exit; there will be too many for sure.” Lyndsay said.
“I agree.” I said.
“How well can you jump?” Mr. Russel asked us. Lyndsay and I looked at him confused. Mr. Russel pointed to the corner of the second floor. The garage had an opening all around but in the corner was a straight fall to my car.
“You meant to ask how well we can fall.” Lyndsay said to Mr. Russel. He shrugged. She took in a deep breath.
“Don’t forget to roll right?” she said aloud. We nodded and we all climbed up on the edge of the garage and took in a deep breath.
“Ready?” I asked. The other two nodded and we jumped off.

I hit the ground just before Mr. Russel then Lyndsay. I rolled when my feet touched as did the others. To my right, just a few steps away was my S5.
“Right there.” I said and ran towards my car. Lyndsay was beside me and Mr. Russel was on our heels. We made it just as the Russians noticed us and opened fire. I got in on the driver’s side and started the engine. The bad thing of having a coupe for a car is, it takes a while for someone to get in the back. Mr. Russel opened the passenger door, pushed the seat forward and got in the back. Lyndsay pushed the seat back and got in the front; a bullet hit her window and shattered it. She shut the door and I dropped the car in first and peeled out of the parking spot. Luckily no one had parallel parked in front of us. Three Russian SUVs started up and were following us.
“I can handle these guys.” Mr. Russel said, “Agent Nadine use that SMG of yours.” Lyndsay turned in her seat and took in a breath. She cocked the gun, leaned out of the window and opened fire on the SUVs. Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat sang the SMG followed by the ping-ping-ping of the bullets hitting the body of the car.
“Aim for the tires!” Mr. Russel shouted at her.
“Trying too, these little European cars don’t give you much elbow room!” she replied.
“It was a gift! I shouted back at her” almost laughing. The scene was tense but the moment was hilarious. Lyndsay continued to fire rounds out of the shattered window as I took a sharp left turn. I heard the satisfying sound of a tire blowing out then the metal screech of a car wrecking.
“Got one!” Lyndsay said smiling. She leaned back in the car and reloaded. She tossed the empty magazine out of the window.
“Vitaly, can you lose the rest?” Mr. Russel asked me. “We can’t waste our ammo.”
“Yeah, just give me a second.” I replied. I took a sharp right turn into oncoming traffic and pressed the pedal to the floor.

To my luck the road was not too busy but there was enough traffic to lose a couple of bad handling SUVs. I weaved the S5 through the cars coming towards us with precise moments and never once did the tires slip and did I lose control. After a moment I heard the satisfying crunch of a head on car crash, the speeds were low so no one would be killed, maybe a little sore but they would live. A moment later I watched in my rearview as the last SUV lost control and flipped over on the road. A car slammed into the side of the SUV while others swerved around it. In the distance I heard the sound of sirens and knew it was time to leave the scene. I heard Mr. Russel laugh in the back seat of the car. Lyndsay was smiling.
"Who taught you how to drive?" Mr. Russel asked me. I chuckled and took a turn off the main highway and pulled into a parking lot overlooking the shore. I put the car in neutral and left the engine running. I turned to Lyndsay and Mr. Russel.
"What now?" I asked. I wasn't entirely sure if they IAA wanted me in this mess anymore but I wanted to see it through to the end.

Mr. Russel looked over at Lyndsay "Agent Nadine, do you have any contacts left from your days in Russia?" He asked her. She nodded and pulled out her cell phone. She clicked the send button on one of the contacts on her phone and placed the phone to her ear. I heard a voice answer but couldn't understand. Lyndsay spoke into the phone's receiver,
"Vinny! How have you been?" Lyndsay said into the phone. The voice answered in a happily surprised tone.
"Yeah, yeah. Listen I need a favor." She said after the incomprehensible voice stopped. "I need you to translate some blueprints for work? Are you up to it?"
There was no answer for a minute and then the voice spoke in a more quiet and serious tone.
"I told you Vinny I can't tell you who I work for, it's classified." Lyndsay said. There was silence then Lyndsay smiled and started to nod as I heard the man say something else.
"Alright, see you soon." she said as she hung up the phone. "We're meeting him at a little Italian restaurant on the corner of 5th avenue and Pine." Mr. Russel nodded in approval and sat back and crossed his arms behind his head.
"I know the place." I said and put the car in reverse. Lyndsay sat back after putting her phone away and picked off some pieces off shattered glass. She grimaced and put her arm on the door handle instead. We backed out of the parking spot and pulled out of the lot.

The road was boring as we took the short drive to the restaurant. No one said much and for a moment I thought Mr. Russel was asleep until he tapped my shoulder.
"Thing's might heat up a little in the restaurant, be on your guard and keep your safety off." Mr. Russel advised me. I nodded, a little confused. Being prepared was never a bad thing though so I took his advice. Lyndsay took in a deep breath as we parked out in front of the restaurant. We thought it best to leave the newly acquired larger guns in the car so we took my 'new friend' as Mr. Russel kept calling it and Lyndsay’s SMG and stuck them in the trunk of the S5. Mr. Russel grabbed the blueprints from the back seat and joined us at the back of the car. Closing the trunk lid I turned to my three new friends.
"Ready?" I asked. Mr. Russel and Lyndsay nodded. I smiled and turned towards the entrance of the restaurant.

The restaurant wasn't full but wasn't totally empty. It was 2:00 in the afternoon, just after the lunch rush. As we walked in a shorter man at a booth in the corner waved at us. We walked over to him after Lyndsay nodded in recognition. We took our seats, Lyndsay beside our new friend, me and Mr. Russel on the other side.
"Didn't know you were bringing friends." the man said to Lyndsay. He had a drink in his hand even though it was only two in the afternoon. I had a feeling he knew this meeting wouldn't go over smoothly.
"I'm Dan Russel and this is Vitaly Penn." Mr. Russel said to introduce us. The man nodded.
"Can you translate them or not? We don't have a lot of time" Lyndsay said to the man. He took in a deep breath and let it out.
"Let me see them." He said. Mr. Russel unrolled the blueprints on the table and spun them to face our new friend. Picking up the blueprints the man studied them intently. He nodded a couple of times and then looked puzzled.
"Where exactly did you guys find these?" he asked us. Mr. Russel shook his head,
"That's our business. What do they mean?" he replied. The man sighed and then laid the blueprints down,
"Long range ballistic missile. Capable of flying over the pacific ocean from Europe. The satellite looks like it’s used to kill any kind of anti-missile system or satellite systems. The man said. "But listen, I don't want anything to do with whatever you guys are --" he was cut off when the sound of breaking glass filled the restaurant. The man at the table, who Lyndsay called Vinny fell face first onto the table, spilling his drink. His blood mixed with the alcohol and made it run all over the table. The doors to the restaurant were kicked open as two more windows shattered. My eye caught the same type of canister Lyndsay through in the heist flying through the air and as it landed on the ground. A moment later, I was blinded by a flash of light that made me feel like I was staring at the sun only three feet away. I was blinded and deaf and I had no idea what was going on.

Right before the explosion I heard Mr. Russel shouting to us.
"Cover your eyes! It's a flash grenade!" he shouted. My ears went silent and I was deafened and blinded by the grenade. I felt like my head was being crushed and I felt totally lost. I regained my vision, barely moments later. I was on the ground and a sharp pain was in my right side. Mr. Russel had his weapon drawn hiding behind an overturned table. I could see him shouting at Lyndsay behind another table to the left. She was shooting rounds towards the entrance of the restaurant. My vision blurred out again and my ears were still ringing. It seemed like hours before I could hear and see again, it was only seconds later. I looked over, my eyes hazy. Mr. Russel was standing and firing shots when his shoulder jerked back and his gun flew from his hand. His eyes got wide and I saw the blood running down his arm. Mr. Russel's head jerked back. He took a step back and then fell over, a bullet hole just above his left eye. I saw the blood pool beneath him, beneath his blank face, eyes still wide. Lyndsay flew over me and ducked behind the overturned table. Her mouth was shouting but I couldn't hear anything, nor could Mr. Russel. My vision started to blur again as Lyndsay hugged Mr. Russel. The last thing I saw was a tear from her eye. My vision blurred out and my head was spinning. I could still feel the pain in my side and could feel the blood filling my shirt. I don't know what happened next but I did know that if I survived this, I would wake up in a Russian prison for sure. I did know one thing for sure; I just lost a new friend. Dan Russel, the IAA director, was dead and I wasn't going to let them get away with it.

I woke up, and I was cold. I was lying in a bed with railings on the side and wheels on the legs that were locked. The pulsating sound of a steady beat ran through my ears. The room around me was white, with a single window. Of course it was raining. There was a TV in the corner on a stand and a table with cold and stale food atop it. I sat up quickly, pain shot through my side. I felt like someone was repeatedly stabbing me in the same spot with a dull knife. I had to lie back against the pillows in my bed. My head hurt, worse than I knew possible. I took a moment to think of what happened. I remembered seeing Mr. Russel being shot in the restaurant and Lyndsay above him. I remember blacking out from either blood loss or the flash grenade. Suddenly I realized what I had forgotten.
“The files! The Blueprints!” I shouted to myself. The door to the room opened and three people walked in. One was a nurse, pretty but nothing compared to Lyndsay. The other two I knew from past experience.
“What was that Mr. Penn?” asked the nurse as she walked to the side of my hospital bed.
“Nothing. Where am I?” I asked her.
“The Seattle hospital” one of the other men answered. I knew them; they were two detectives from the Rebus police force. Detectives Jones and Davis. “We found you in the Toni’s Diner accident yesterday.”
I shook my head and rubbed my eyes. They were still sore from the flash grenade.
“Did you find anyone else?” I asked Detective Jones, the one speaking to me. Detective Davis spoke up.
“Just you, the others were either killed or caught in the fire, luckily one of the fire men got to you before you were cooked as well.” He answered.
“Fire?!” I almost shouted. I tried to sit up and stand but the pain shot back through me and pushed me back down.
“Mr. Penn! Don’t jerk like that; you’ll tear out your stitches!” the nurse scolded me.
“Yes, the restaurant was set on fire. Now we need to ask you some questions involving another recent fire in Rebus.” Detective Jones said. I shook my head.
“No…no…that wasn’t me. I need to get to that restaurant. There was some fi-“I stopped, “some things there that were very valuable to me.” I said. The detectives looked interested,
“What things exactly?” Detective Davis asked me. The nurse was checking my heart monitor and everything and then left the room.
“That’s my business.” I answered the two detectives. “Where’s my car?” I asked.
“It’s been impounded. They found some interesting items in the trunk when they were searching it over.” answered Detective Davis. I laughed a little.
“Look Mr. Penn. We have your fingerprints at both crime scenes. We have witnesses saying you were there at both places. You have a lot of explaining to do!” shouted Detective Jones. I shook my head.
“It wasn’t me.” I said to them. The detectives looked angry with me.
“Listen Penn. You can either give us a clean confession or we can do this the hard way.” Detective Jones said to me. I laughed a little.
“If you guys really think that I caused all of this, I would suggest a career change because you obviously are incompetent in this one.” I said to them. Their faces turned red. Detective Davis sighed deeply,
“When you’re ready to give us some answers we’ll be waiting right outside.” he said to me leaving the room. Detective Jones glared at me for another moment and then left the room after Davis.

The door shut behind the detectives and I sat up as best I could. It hurt, just as much as before, but now I had determination. I had to get back to that restaurant. I had to find the files. But more importantly, I had to find Lyndsay. Did she make it, did she survive. What if the Russians took her again? I had to get out of here. I decided my best chance would be to wait until nightfall. I could freefall from the window in the room and get out that way. Hopefully I was on the second story at least, any higher and I probably would break something. I thought about Mr. Russel and his advice he gave me. Don’t forget to roll.

Not much happened; I waited on my bed patiently until nightfall. The nurse came in a couple of times and greeted me, checked some things and then left. The detectives stayed outside my room the entire time it seemed. When the time rolled around to about midnight I thought it was the best time as ever. I walked to the closet next to my hospital bed where they kept my other clothes and slipped them on. My gun was gone, along with the extra clips and dockers clutch. That might cause an issue, but for now I just had to focus on getting out of here, in one piece. My side still hurt badly and I had to hold it as I walked from the closer to the window. To my luck, and my surprise I was on the second floor and I could easily survive the fall. I lifted the side of my shirt and checked the stitches the doctor had put in. They were clean and very well done and would easily hold from this fall. I climbed through the window until I was sitting on the sill, legs on the outside. Closing my eyes I focused on landing without making my condition worse. With a little push from my hands I started my descent. I opened my eyes. I felt the wind rushing through my ears for a second before my feet hit the ground and I fell into a roll. It hurt, my side was on fire and my ankles didn’t feel great either. I didn’t stand up after the roll. I laid still, breathing heavily to try and soothe the burning pain in my right side. It took me a minute, but I managed to stand up without collapsing. That’s when I heard Detective Jones calling my name.

“Penn!” shouted Jones. “Where the hell do you think you’re going?!” I had two options, I could try and run, but I knew they’d eventually catch me, or I could confront him. Before I could decide, Jones was coming towards me.
“I was just stepping out for some air is all.” I said to him when he came up to me.
“Ha ha, very funny. I should charge you for resisting arrest!” he mocked then shouted. I got an idea before he spoke again. “Get back into your room without a fight and we’ll pretend it never happened alright?” he said. “I’m not interested in taking down someone that’s on my side of the law.” I nodded and we started to walk back towards the hospital when I doubled over and groaned in pain. It would hurt now and later but it would save me so I put my hand under my shirt and tore my stitches open. Detective Jones turned pale when he saw my hand covered in the blood.
“Come on let’s get you back in there” Jones said urgently. He put his arm around my back. While I had him caught off guard I took in a deep breath. I ducked down quickly, throwing Detective Jones off balance and leaving his arm out in the open. Grabbing his arm I stuck my leg between his knocking him to the floor and spraining his ankle. I could have broken it but I thought I would let him off easy; after all he was just doing his job. My hand slid effortlessly and quickly to his holster and disarmed him as he fell. Detective Jones hit the ground with a thud. Immediately I started to run as best I could. I heard him shouting at me from behind.
“Penn! Get back here Penn! I will shoot you! Then we’ll see how far you can run.” I turned around and stopped for a moment and held his gun in the air and smiled. Detective Jones’ hands immediately went to his holster and I saw his mouth cuss when he realized what had happened. I smiled again. Jones lay on the hospital grounds grimacing at me. He favored his ankle with his hands. When I turned back around he flipped me the bird. I laughed.

I found the parking lot of the Hospital and found the two detectives cars. I almost shot the tires out when I realized I would rather save the ammo. Instead, I found a stick on the ground and let the air out. I wasn’t entirely sure how to get back to the restaurant but I didn’t think it would be too hard to find. I guess if it was burned down, I just needed to find the most recent smoldering pile of ash. I started walking, and I had no idea where to go first. I felt as if I had to start over now, from the beginning, square one. I had no idea where to go, who to ask, what to do. I didn’t have a clue what to do next, and I had no idea how to stop the Russians plans now. I needed help. I needed Lyndsay.

You know that old saying, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone? Well, it’s very true. As I walked the rainy streets of Seattle Washington, I realized what I had now that it was gone. I worried that I would fall for Lyndsay; she was loveable, and beautiful. Now I wish I would have said something. What if she wasn’t around anymore? What if she died in the fire, or in the firefight between her and the Russians? I didn’t know. All I knew was that I missed her, and I needed her now. I was lost now, and had no direction it seemed. I knew I had only met her just a day or two ago and we never really shared any moments together other than the trip to here, but from the moment I laid eyes on her, I had this feeling that she was the next biggest part of my life. I couldn’t let her go this easy, I had to find her.

I wandered into a corner store somewhere in Seattle. A man from behind the counter looked up from behind the magazine he was reading and greeted me, without interest. I wandered over to him and his eyes looked over the edge of the magazine. He sighed and then set it down after I stood there for a moment, not breaking eye contact.
“Can I help you?” he asked. His nametag read Joey.
“I need directions to Toni’s Diner.” I replied. Joey looked puzzled for a moment.
“The Italian joint that just burned down?” he asked. I nodded.
“Yeah I know where that is. It’s just around the corner. Go up about a block and then turn right and it’ll be right there. I don’t know if they will let you in though, I mean, they got cops and firefighters all over the place last I saw.” He answered.
“Alright. Thanks.” I replied. He mumbled a reply but I didn’t listen. I followed his directions exactly and to my surprise he was right. He was wrong about there being people. There was nothing to guard, and no reason for anyone to still be around. The only thing here was a smoldering pile of ash that used to be a restaurant. I sighed and stared up at the sky for a moment. I looked back at the pile of ash. The last place I saw Lyndsay. That’s when it hit me, and I knew where I had to go.

I didn’t have much to work with and I was going in unarmed but I had to get some answers. I walked around until I found a parking garage. I needed something that could get me back to Rebus and quickly too. I didn’t have my lock picking set anymore either but that’s alright, I could manage. I found a nice car that would get me there fast, a 2010 midnight purple Chevrolet Camaro. I knew it would probably be safer to take something less obvious, but honestly I wasn’t interested in staying unnoticed. I looked around to make sure it was clear and then turned my head away covering my eyes. Using my elbow I broke the driver’s side window and opened the door from the inside. The annoying and pesky alarm went off and echoed throughout the garage. Immediately I opened the fuse box and pulled out the alarm’s fuse. I worked my hands under the steering column and within a few minutes had the car started. I smiled as I pulled out of the garage and onto the main road. For a while I thought about the detectives at the hospital and how they would react when they found I was gone completely. I thought about their reaction even more when they learned I stole a Camaro to drive back to Rebus. I felt that if I told them about the Russians they either wouldn’t believe me or it wouldn’t do anything but hurt in the end. Most of the time I was devising a plan the entire trip back to Rebus. I knew that I probably didn’t have much of a chance of stopping this, but I had to try. I had to find Lyndsay. If I stopped now, Mr. Russel would have died in vain. I didn’t know of any where to go but one single place. The only one place to go to get answers, and that was straight into the belly of the beast. I had to go back to Nightly Incorporated. If it meant that I could find Lyndsay, I would swim through hell itself for her.

It wasn't an interesting trip. There were no car chases, no shootouts and no police. Just an average drive from city to city. The peaceful moment was reassuring, things changed when I got back to Rebus. As far as any of the Russians knew, I was killed in the restaurant. Most people I guessed would have counted themselves lucky to have survived the mess and got out of it all, I was nothing like most people. I was purposely getting myself back into the chaos between all of this because I had to stop it, or die trying.
I needed to get some answers. As I got back into the Rebus city limits I parked the parked the stolen Camaro in a side alley. I checked the magazine of Detective Jones' gun to make sure it was loaded. After seeing that the magazine was full I clipped it back in and placed it, barrel down between the seat and center console. I took in a deep breath and took a moment to gather my thoughts. I had only one idea to get the answers I needed. Timmy Johnson, the head of security. I had to hunt him down. I started the Camaro back up and pulled out of the alley way and drove towards Nightly Incorporated. As I passed by the billboard with Vaughn Nightly on it I remembered Lyndsay and her apartment. I remembered thinking of how beautiful she was even when Vaughn Nightly showed me the picture. While being lost in memories I almost ran a red light. I stopped the car short but not enough for the tires to squeal. Straight in front of me was the skyscraper of Nightly Incorporated. To all the people in the city it was just another business building but to me, it was the root of all evil. That building was a symbol of losing Lyndsay, a 46 story tall monument. The light turned green and I drove straight towards Nightly Incorporated. I parked in the garage across the street. I didn't have any contacts to talk to; I couldn't go to another club and find another guy like Randall. The only thing I could do is wait until Timmy Johnson showed up here. If he ever showed up. So I waited, my eyes glued to the entrance of Nightly Incorporated. Sitting in the Camaro, I began to dose off after about two hours. I had got back into Rebus from Seattle at about 3:00am and now it was about 5:00am. I was hoping to catch Timmy when he went in. By 5:45 in the morning, I was asleep in the car.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I sat up quickly in the Camaro. The sun was shining through the windshield directly into my eyes. Squinting I fumbled for the sunshade. When I had blocked myself from the penetrating rays I checked the clock. 12:17 showed the clock. I took in a deep breath. I didn’t sleep well. I felt as if I blinked and was awake again. I wondered if I had missed Timmy leaving, that’s when I saw him walking out of the building. My eyes followed him as he walked down the street then turned the corner. In a split second I was out of the Camaro and following after Timmy. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry and I caught up to him on the street. I stayed back, weaving between people, my eyes never losing their target. Timmy stopped at a restaurant on the corner. Before he went in he looked back towards where I was. Quickly I turned to the right and slid behind civilians on the street. Timmy didn’t notice me and walked into the restaurant. Timmy disappeared inside, and I immediately followed.

It wasn’t busy inside, so there were few places to keep my distance. I saw Timmy sitting at a booth in the corner, with a woman across from him. I picked up a menu from the hostesses podium at the front and too my seat. I sat three booths back from Timmy, where I could watch him and his lady friend. I could see the woman’s mouth moving but I wasn’t sure what she was saying. Timmy was nodding. They both laughed. A feeling of excitement and adrenaline coursed through my veins. I could have dragged Timmy off right there but I waited and silenced my emotions. A waitress came up to my table.
“How may I help you sir?” She asked politely. As she spoke, a brilliant idea flooded my mind.
“For now I would just like a drink. Just water” I replied to her.
“Alright, I’ll get that for you in one moment.” She replied scribbling on the paper pad she carried. “My name is Jenny if you need anything.” I nodded at her and smiled. She went back into the kitchen and my vision switched back towards Timmy and what I now saw as his lunch date. His arm was on the table and his hand covered the hand of his lady friend across from him. For a moment, I almost felt bad things would have to turn in front of her, then I remembered Lyndsay. He had just as much a part in her kidnapping than anyone in that ‘business’. Breathing out heavily I watched.

Jenny came back with three glasses of water on a tray. One she handed to me and the other two she took to the table with Timmy and his lady friend. I waited another few minutes before I called Jenny over to my table.
“What can I get you?” She asked me.
“I would like to send something to that table over there with the man and woman if I am allowed to.” I responded. Jenny looked puzzled for a minute then asked,
“What do you want to send?”
“Do you stock Vodka here? I asked in reply.
“Yes sir.”
“Good, I want a bottle, but pour it out first or find and empty bottle then take it to that table and set it down in front of the man. Tell him it was from me.” I requested. I wanted Timmy to get a message, but I didn’t want to cause a major scene in the middle of the restaurant. Jenny, the waitress looked at me for a moment, and then nodded.
“There is an empty one I know of. I won’t charge you for that. He comes in here a lot and is rather rude, so whatever this means I just hope it ruins his day.” She said to me leaning in to whisper. I smiled a little,
“It will.” I said to her. She smiled and then walked away towards the kitchen. I was glad she wouldn’t charge me; I didn’t plan to pay even if she did. I took a drink of my water and watched for Jenny to return.

Timmy and his date had food put in front of them and were eating when Jenny returned with the empty Vodka bottle. She winked at me as she walked towards Timmy’s table and I nodded back.
“For you sir.” She said to Timmy. He looked up, surprised.
“Another guest in the restaurant sent this to your table.” Jenny said. Timmy put his fork down and swallowed.
“Who sent it?” he asked, slowly and cautiously. I saw Jenny smile a little and point a finger towards me. I will never forget the face Timmy had when he looked over at me. It was a mixture of confusion, fear and total disbelieve. Jenny set the bottle down in front of Timmy and walked away. Timmy stared at me mouth agape. He picked up the empty vodka bottle and held it in front of him. After a moment, he got the message and the bottle fell to the floor. Shattered glass exploded every way and the restaurant became quiet. Timmy’s lady friend had a look of total and complete confusion. I smiled. Timmy stood carefully.
“What’s going on Tim?” said his lady friend.
“Shut up!” he shouted back sternly. I stayed sitting and waited for him to move. I was relying on him walking out of the restaurant. He walked towards my table. The other people there were still staring. No one moved, no one made a sound and no one said a word. Timmy approached my table,
“You died at Toni’s.” he whispered to me. “I saw you take a bullet wound and we left you for the fire.” I smiled and stood, facing him.
“Who shot me Timmy? Was it you? Was it Vaughn?” I spoke in a dark tone, yet still smiling. Timmy took a step back.
“It was….It was…” he stuttered. Timmy took another step and almost tripped.
“Where’s Lyndsay?” I questioned stepping forward.
“I don’t know. Vaughn took her, I swear.” He replied. Timmy took another step back and I saw the gun in his waistband. I needed to get him out of here before he started shooting. Too late.
“I don’t know who you think you are, but you’re messing with the wrong people.” Timmy said, getting some courage back. “I don’t take any crap from nobody so just back up a minute!” he started to shout. He drew his weapon. The restaurant erupted in panic and chaos. People ducked under the table while others ran out the doors. Jenny the waitress dropped behind the counter. Only one person spoke,
“Tim?! Where did that come from?! What are you doing?!” shouted the lady friend he was sitting with earlier. He turned and pointed the gun at her.
“Didn’t I tell you to shut up!” he shouted at her. I saw his finger begin to move. I stepped forward quickly and pushed his arm to the right just as he fired a shot. It shattered the window beside his lady friend, former lady friend as of now. She screamed and ran out of the restaurant. Timmy spun on his heels and pointed the gun back at me.
“This time I will make sure you stay dead.” He said to me. I smiled at him,
“Good luck.” I mocked. Timmy became angry. His arm clenched and he pulled the trigger. I ducked forward just in time and landed a hard uppercut right under Timmy’s chin. His head jerked back and I could hear his teeth snap together. Timmy took a step back to catch his balance. Before he could look back down I gave him a right hook that knocked him to the floor. His weapon fell from his hand. The glass from the shattered Vodka bottle punctured his cheek and he started to bleed. I picked up his weapon and looped it through the back of my belt. Timmy was out cold. I leaned down and picked him up as best as I could. I hoisted him over my shoulder, like firefights do to victims caught in the fire and left without a word. The restaurant became silent again as I walked out. I didn’t hear a word from anyone as I walked down the street. People stared as I carried Timmy back to the Camaro. But just like people, no one bothered to even try to help; they just made an opening for me to walk through, stared for a moment and then went on with their lives. I needed answers and I knew how to get them. I made it back to the garage with the Camaro and put Timmy in the trunk. I had a feeling he would be out for a while so I took my time getting in and driving off. I had interrogated people before, but this was going to be totally different. With Timmy Johnson, Nightly Incorporated’s head of security in the trunk of the stolen Camaro, I drove to the docks.

Timmy’s eyes opened quickly. He couldn’t remember a thing. The room around him was dark except for the one light overhead of him. He heard footsteps approaching in front of him. He tried to move but his arms were bound to a wooden chair, along with his legs. He was confused, and terrified.
“Where am I?” he struggled to say. No one answered and Timmy became anxious. He started to sweat nervously.
“Who are you? What am I doing here? What’s going on?” Timmy spoke again. But again there was no answer. Timmy struggled in his binds under the single light above him. He grunted with every move but the more he twisted and turned, the deeper the ropes cut into him. Blood started to drip to the floor. Timmy heard footsteps again, approaching him.
“Hello?” he spoke, quietly. The footsteps continued without a word spoken.
“Hello?!” he shouted at the omniscient sound. The footsteps continued disregarding his shout.
“Who the hell are y-?!” Timmy shouted but was cut off by a hand covering his mouth; a gun was placed against his temple. He couldn’t see who it was, just felt the hand on his mouth and their breath as they spoke.
“Shout and scream, it’ll make it more fun. No one can hear you for miles.” Said the voice. Timmy’s heart raced and pounded in his chest like a bass drum in a band. The voice spoke again,
“Do you recognize this place?” it asked. He Timmy couldn’t speak, the hand was still covering his mouth so he shook his head instead.
“Really? You should. It used to belong to you and your company.” Said the voice. Timmy began to remember what had happened before. The hand moved from his mouth and the voice quieted. The gun barrel disappeared and Timmy was alone again.
“Vitaly? Vitaly Penn?” he asked aloud. No voice came to answer him. Timmy sat still now, breathing heavily, still sweating. His fear increased even more when the light above him shut off. The walls echoed his heavy breaths. He couldn’t see, and didn’t hear a thing. He jumped when a hand touched his shoulder and someone whispered close to his ear.
“Are you afraid of the dark?” asked the ghostly voice. Timmy didn’t answer, he was too afraid. Not of the dark necessarily but of the person around him.
“What do you want?” moaned Timmy.
“What do I want?” replied the voice, “I want answers to my questions. Most of all I want you to suffer.” Timmy swallowed. His fear was unbelievable and he wanted to run more than anything. He was shaking in his chair.
“Where is she Timmy?” asked the voice as the barrel of a gun pressed against his head.
“I don’t know. Vaughn took her!” Timmy answered, still shaking in fear. His voice was breaking. The voice was silent and then it spoke on the other side of Timmy, making him jump again.
“Are you sure?” it asked. Timmy tried to answer but no sound escaped. He nodded his head furiously.
“Where is Vaughn?” the voice asked Timmy. There was silence for a moment as Timmy gathered his strength to answer.
“He has an office on the top floor of Nightly Incorporated.” Answered Timmy, “Look, I don’t want to die! I was just doing my job! Let me go I can he-“he was cut off by the sound of a gunshot. The chair clanged against the floor and fell sideways, Timmy still tied to it. Blood pooled quickly around his head and ran down the cold cement floor. The single overhead light was turned on and a gun was tossed to the floor beside Timmy. A hand took his wallet and security clearance card off his belt. The last sound that was heard, were footsteps leaving. The single light swung back in forth over Timmy’s body, illuminating his dead corpse. His gun lay beside him, the barrel still smoking. A door opened and closed and that was the last of it.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I drove out of the docks leaving the charred warehouse with the dead body still inside. The police would find him sooner or later. I drove towards the highway again, to go back to Seattle. If I was going to do this, I would need some supplies. The only place I could think to go was back to the IAA office. Hopefully Mr. Russel’s lockers were still there and undisturbed. I drove the stolen Camaro all the way back to Seattle. The entire trip I planned for what was to happen next. I daydreamed of meeting Vaughn Nightly in his office and repaying him the favor of taking Lyndsay from me. I daydreamed of ending this mess. I drove to a hotel and used the cash I found in Timmy’s wallet to pay for a room for two nights. I didn’t plan to stay the entire night tonight, but I needed to pass time so I could get back into the IAA main office.

I parked the stolen car in the back and out sight. As I entered my rented room I remembered Randall, and staying at the motel with him as we waited to get him out of town. I remembered seeing the plane explode and knowing absolutely it wasn’t an accident. I remembered his story about the trailers at the docks. I realized what was in the third trailer now. The one he never checked. It had to be parts to build the satellite we saw in the blueprints. I’m sure they have already started to build it by now. It might already be done. I had no idea when the Russians were going to attack, so I had no idea how much time I had to finish this job. I started to daydream about Lyndsay and dose off. I had to find her. I had to save her and get her out of this mess. I couldn’t let her down.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I woke up an hour later. I fell asleep on the bed of the hotel room. My head hurt, and my stomach growled. The clock showed 11:47 at night. Getting off the bed I stretched out my back and felt it crack in four or five different places. It was dark out and I knew it was a great time to get back into the IAA office. I checked the pistol I took from Detective Jones again and slid it in my belt behind my back. I grabbed few snacks from the mini refrigerator in the room to hold my stomach over till I got out. I left my hotel room and got back into the stolen Camaro and drove towards the IAA main office. As I got closer I took in a deep breath. This is where it all started to come to an end and this is the first step to ending this mess for good.

I didn’t see anyone near the building when I parked the Camaro on the street. I walked slowly and cautiously towards the entrance just to be sure. I heard footsteps around the corner and I stopped in my tracks. I could smell the smoke a cigar. I waited until the footsteps stopped then started the other way. Leaning around the corner I saw a single Russian. He was smoking a cigar and had an SMG strapped around his neck. He was walking the other way and not looking back. I used the moment to walk to the entrance of the IAA office and go inside. There were more Russians patrolling inside and I barely hid myself before one of them saw me. There were few lights on and the shadows were long. It worked well to my advantage. As each patrol passed me I would skip to another spot. Slowly I made it to the elevators up. I knew they would make a lot of noise so once I was on one, the fun would start. A Russian guard stood in front of the buttons to the elevators. I needed to get past him without making a scene. I decided on another distraction. Pulling out Detective Jones’ gun I slid the magazine out and popped one bullet out of it. I slid the magazine back in and replaced the gun in my belt. I took in a breath and got ready to run. I threw the bullet at one of the Russian guards behind me. His head jerked down when the bullet hit him and he immediately looked around. He caught eye contact with the guard at the elevators and shouted something in Russian at him. The guard looked puzzled and then shouted back. It continued this way for a moment, and then the guard by the elevator walked over to the one hit with the bullet. That was my chance. I ran out from behind my hiding spot and pushed the elevator button repeatedly. I doubted it would make it go faster but it made me feel that way. The doors opened and I rushed inside pressing the close doors button just as quickly. The guards turned and saw me just as the doors were closing. That’s when the bullets started flying.

I exited the elevator and immediately jumped to the right behind a well placed column. I had ridden all the way up to Mr. Russel’s office where three of four Russian guards were waiting for me. As soon as the doors opened, they opened fire. I waited for the bullets to stop before I tried my luck shooting back. I leaned my head out and saw the guards reloading their weapons. I drew my gun and rolled out. Before the guards looked up I had fired three rounds, each one landing in the hearts of the guards. They all fell simultaneously. Another guard leaned out of Mr. Russel’s office and fired a wild shot at me; it missed and sank into the wall behind my head. I shot a round back at him. The guard stood still for a moment when the bullet went square between his eyes. After a moment he fell backwards as his eyes rolled back in his head. I moved on into Mr. Russel’s office and shut the large double doors behind me. I pushed his desk back up against the doors (it had been pushed back when the Russians broke in). I heard the elevator ding as it went down to fetch the reinforcements. I didn’t have a lot of time.

I went quickly through the door to the side room in Mr. Russel’s office. My fears came true when I realized it had been broken into. I almost gave up hope, and then I saw the metal closets. Still locked, and untouched along with the zip lines still out of the two windows to the garage across the street. I smiled. I approached the metal closets and held the lock in my hand. There was a four number dial for each lock. I scrolled the numbers until they all read 1753. The first lock popped open and I saw the metal closet was totally empty. This was the one with the weapons and ammo. I slammed the doors and opened the second one the same way as the first. It was raided as well, all the supplies was gone out of it. I remembered that we never opened the third closet when Mr. Russel, Lyndsay and I were here the first time. I walked over to it and tried to open it the same way as the other two. No luck. I wasn’t sure the combination it would take to open the lock but I didn’t have time. I shot the lock with one of the remaining bullets I had and opened the closet. I smiled when I looked inside.
“Thank you Mr. Russel.”

Now I knew why Mr. Russel left that closet closed. Mostly, it was like the other two combined, but it seemed to be made for a solo mission instead of a group. It was absolutely perfect. I didn’t take a large rifle or an automatic weapon, although I had the option. In the end it would simply slow me down. I took two handguns, both the same model as my old one. Along with the handguns was a dockers clutch made for two weapons. After slipping into the dockers clutch and loading the two pistols with clips and sliding them in their places I grabbed the rest of the magazines from the closet. There were two leg pouches that held the magazines. I had six magazines not counting the two already in the guns. That was eighty rounds all together. I only needed two.

After filling a backpack with first aid kits and about $400, I closed the closet doors and let the lock sit broken on the floor. I heard the door in Mr. Russel’s office break open. The desk was pushed back and slammed against the windows. A crack appeared from the bottom to top in a diagonal slash. About nine Russians, armed with automatic weapons rushed in. They immediately saw the open door and me standing there. They aimed down their sights. It seemed as if time moved slower then, I saw the Russians pulling the triggers on their automatic weapons as I sprinted for the zip lines. I heard the clank and clink of the bullets off the metal; it was a miracle I wasn’t hit by a bullet bouncing back. The steady sound of gunfire pounded my ears and paraded through my skull as I went towards the zip lines. I reached up to grab on. My heart sank and my adrenaline started pumping. Mr. Russel and Lyndsay used the other two zip lines; there was no way to hold on. The gunfire stopped and the Russians were shouting. They were reloading their guns and I didn’t have much time.

The Russians pressed the release buttons on their guns and the magazines slid out and crashed to the floor. Each one pulled another magazine from a different holder and slid it into the empty spot. There was a chorus of weapons cocking back and then an encore of footsteps rushing forward. As they ran in their eyes surveyed the entire room quickly. It was empty, and no one was there. One of the Russians rushed to the window and looked out. He spoke and told the others the windows were clear. The other men examined the metal closets. A man shot each of the left over locks off and opened the closets, they all three were empty, except for the extra supplies in the third. The Russians scratched their heads in confusion and all stared at each other. How could someone just disappear, he was right here. One man leaned out of the window and scratched his chin. He produced a knife from his belt and cut the zip line. It fell to the ground without a sound. There were no cars and no people below. The night was totally quiet. The Russian cut the other two lines and then stepped back into the room. He pointed out of the window at the garage across the street. The other men nodded and they all ran back out of the door. They never heard the sound of feet dropping to the floor as they piled back into the elevator.

I wiped my forehead and stretched my arms. I had debated on crossing the zip line hand over hand and was glad that I decided against it. Instead I climbed to the top of the window and held myself on the window sill. My arms were tired from gripping the sides so I didn’t fall. When the one Russian leaned out and cut the rope I held my breath. If he would have looked up, I would be dead. As I walked slowly towards the exit of Mr. Russel’s office I heard a single pair of footsteps rushing back in. I hid behind the door to the room. A man rushed in, armed as the rest were. He was carrying a large duffle bag with him. He looked around and then walked towards the third closet. I guess they were here to collect the rest of the supplies. He didn’t even flinch when I moved behind him. In a blindingly fast and smooth motion I stole the man’s weapon and covered his mouth. I whispered close to his ear pressing his automatic rifle into his back.
“You’re going to get me out of here. Alright?” I whispered. The man nodded frantically. I turned him around and walked towards the elevator outside of Mr. Russel’s office. I clicked the first floor button and waited for the doors to close. I took in a deep breath and my hostage swallowed hard.

The elevator doors opened and all eyes in the room turned to me. Guns were aimed at me but there wasn’t a sound. I pushed the hostage forward and walked behind him slowly.
“Now, I won’t shoot if you won’t. So let’s just stay calm, and no one move and I will be on my way.” I spoke aloud. I didn’t know if any of them spoke English but it didn’t matter. As a response I heard a shot be fired as I had my back to the entrance. The man I was using as a hostage went limp and I felt the life fall out of him. I should have known better than to expect Russians to protect one another. There was a moment of nothing, the calm before the storm. Then the room erupted in bullets, smoke, muzzle blast and the rata-tat-tat-tat-tat of automatic weapons. As the first man to fire a second shot was pulling the trigger I drew my guns. As opposed to their thirty round clips at least I only had ten shots on either hand. But that was twenty Russians I could take down, and I did just that. As the first bullet fired whizzed past my shoulder I shot back nonstop until my guns clicked out of ammo. The Russians didn’t wait to see to their fallen comrades as twenty men fell to the ground in a matter of thirty seconds. Each bullet landed squarely in the chest except for one that put a hole between the eyes of the man who shot the hostage down. The wound in my side tore open as I rolled behind one of two pillars at the entrance. I felt the blood running beneath my shirt. It had started to tear when I climbed on top of the window but it lasted; now it sent burning pains through my entire right side. There was a pause in gunfire as the last of the men reloaded their guns. With my back pressed against the pillar I dropped out my empty magazines and loaded in two new ones. My adrenaline rushed through my veins pumping my heart faster and faster. I was focused on only one thing. I heard the click of the release buttons being pressed on the weapons and the magazines sliding out. Time seem to stand still as I rolled out. There was no silence after that. I fired my guns empty again, twenty rounds at twenty two targets. I watched as each Russian lost their breath when the lead killers entered their chests. Their eyes went still and their mouths opened slightly. They lost their grip on their guns and began to fall backwards. Only two men survived simple because I ran out of ammo. Before the magazines could hit the floor, twenty of the last twenty two men fell into their own blood. The clips hit the floor one after another and the crack of metal against the floor was the only sound. My eyes glared at the last two Russians who stood shaking. Their eyes were wide and their hands unsteady. One of them looked down at his gun and then decided to throw it away and drop to his knees with his hands raised. The other one looked at him puzzled then did the same. I reloaded my guns and placed them back in their holsters. After the sound of the bullets, the night was silent once again. Turning on my heels I walked through the entrance of the IAA main office. I left forty-one Russians dead; forty of them were killed by me. It was a total massacre, and I didn’t ever look back. I knew the last two in there would spread the word, and that’s what I wanted. I was a one man army in this, so the fear of one man killing forty men would only help. I left the IAA office.

The night air was cold, and to anyone that wasn’t inside the office it seemed totally normal. If it wasn’t for the sound of gunfire no one probably would have noticed what happened. I heard sirens in the distance and had a feeling they would be on my tail soon. There was no way no one heard all that gunfire so I wasn’t surprised. I went back to the Camaro. The midnight purple color reflected the moon in a brilliant way. I got in and went the way I came. I was down to half of the ammo I left with. But still, I only needed two shots. I needed one bullet for Vaughn Nightly and one for Drake Petrov. If it so happened there were thirty eight more Russians in my way to those two, then so be it. I needed a night to relax before I finished this mess up. I drove back to the hotel I was staying out before I came here and parked the midnight purple Camaro in the back again, out of sight. The lady at the desk didn’t even look up from the magazine she was reading as I walked in. I went straight to my room, and locked the door behind me. I laid out on the bed and started to dose off. Earlier I wasn’t sure if I would be able to sleep now I realized I could sleep for days it seemed. Mr. Russel was right; after the tenth or eleventh kill it didn’t affect you as much. It didn’t seem like that big of a deal. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or bad. I didn’t want to become a hardened killer, but I didn’t want to feel regrets every time I fired my weapon. The adrenaline slowed down and I relaxed. I needed to watch to make sure I wasn’t followed but before I could think twice about it, I fell asleep. My dreams were memories, and all night I thought about who I lost, who I never meant and what they meant to me.

My night was one of reminiscence, one of thought and memory, and all through the night, Lyndsay flooded my mind.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Lyndsay and I were together, driving down some open road. She was wearing sunglasses and smiling at me with the windows down in the S5. Everything was perfect and things were happy. I was happy, and I felt great. The Russian mess was over and we had lived happily ever after. Nothing seemed like it could go wrong. Mr. Russel was still gone, but we had come to terms with that. He died fighting for a good cause and would always be remembered. Lyndsay had been given the offer of being the director of the IAA but turned it down and we both took early retirement. We spent our days together, happy and in love. Our hands were interlocked as we drove down that open road. Our hearts were one and everything was wonderful. The weather was nice and Lyndsay never looked more beautiful. Just the mention of her name made me smile. I loved her and to my surprise and disbelieve she loved me as well. I didn’t believe it could be true, there was no way such a happy feeling could exist but here it was. Everything was perfect, and I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. As we drove farther down the road I noticed it looked like it was about to storm. Nothing changed, rain didn’t matter to me. I had Lyndsay and that’s all that matters. We rolled our windows up and the rain began to fall. That’s when I woke up.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I sat up in the hotel bed and breathed deeply. I wanted to dream about Lyndsay again but I was awake and couldn’t sleep again. I leaned against the wall. All in all the night was slow, no one followed me to my hotel, and I don’t think there was anyone left to follow me. There were no interruptions and I was able to relax. I had plenty of time to think. I felt as if I hadn’t stopped moving for days and hadn’t sat down to really reflect on what was going on. I thought about what was going to happen tomorrow. Tomorrow was the big day. The day I finally did my best to end this mess once and for all. The night seemed to drag on forever as I sat in my bed thinking. Even after my dream Lyndsay was still in my thoughts. I had a feeling I was still in this mess for her. I didn’t even know if she was still alive. I was going off of hope. She had to be alive, that’s just how it was supposed to happen. She was alive; I just had to find her.

I sat in the chair by the window as I watched the sunrise. I had woken up at about four in the morning, it was six now. The sun moved slowly in the east. Rising up as the moon descended. The natural flow of the universe as timed continued to move on and on. Nothing that happened really changed anything, time still moved on. People died and people were born, and time still moved on. People lost loved ones and fell in love, and time still moved on. The world didn’t stop for you; everything is insignificant in the big picture. No matter what happens, time moves on. I felt that way until I met Lyndsay. For the first time in my life I felt that the world stopped for a moment while I looked at her. As the sun rose slowly all I could think about was her. She was my motivation for all of this; she was the reason I had to fix this. Even if it meant diving into the belly of the beast and sacrificing me for her, I will do it, and I will do it with a smile. Lyndsay amazed me in many ways. I didn’t quite understand it, how I could be so attracted to her after such a short time of knowing her, but I couldn’t deny it. My every thought could be tied back to her. Everything I did, I did for Lyndsay. I guess in a way I could have thanked the Russians for framing me. If it wasn’t for that I would have never met her, as far as I knew at least. I had to find her and I had to save her, no matter the cost.

The sun rose and the clock clicked over to 7:30am. I needed to start the drive back to Rebus. With a sigh I stood, stretched and walked towards the hotel door. I walked to the Camaro and got in the driver’s seat. After turning the key and starting the engine I pulled out of the hotel parking lot and headed for Rebus. I still had more time to think. The roads were clear and my mind wandered. This time I thought more of the pessimistic side. What if I didn’t find Lyndsay? What if to her, this was just another assignment? What if she didn’t feel the same? It was like high school all over again, when you worry if your crush has feelings for you. You ask your friends to talk to them and see what they say and then you decide if you want to make a move or not. Except I didn’t have any friends in this case, and we didn’t meet in a class or something like that. I made a promise to myself that if I found Lyndsay then I wouldn’t wait to tell her how I felt. I would let her know as soon as I could to see how things would end. I hated to admit it, because it felt odd to me, but I loved her.

My mind wandered back to the dream I had earlier, the one about driving with Lyndsay. Just a simple thing like that still made me smile. What if it were true? What if I really did get her love in return? Is this how fate worked? It gave you extreme circumstances to meet your soul mate? Was fate actually giving me happiness? All my life I had never believed fate was there. I thought things just happened out of luck or coincidence. I always assumed I was born unlucky, as if I wasn’t supposed to be around. After hearing stories of my father leaving and growing up with my Aunt, I never grew out of feeling that way. I still didn’t understand why my father left. I couldn’t grasp the concept of him leaving his only son. I always blamed myself. I must have done something, even though I was little, there must have been some reason. I didn’t want to hate my father but I had so much trouble believing he had a good reason. How could you leave your only son to your sister who can barely take care of you? How can you shun your responsibility as a parent? I didn’t understand it, and I desperately wanted to.

The worst part about my father leaving was now I knew nothing of my mother. Since my Aunt never knew her and no one else in my family did I never learned a thing about her. I liked to imagine she was this amazing person. I knew she was, she had to be. I wished dearly that I could have met her, or knew about her. Never once did I not wish that maybe things were different and I grew up with both my real parents in a normal home. Now I see though that everything truly does happen for a reason. Although we may not see it at first, and we may absolutely hate what’s happened, all things happen for a reason. Fate is there, and it’s already been planned out for each person. A life and what is going to happen already exists. There is no luck, and there is no coincidence. All things happen exactly as they are supposed to for a bigger reason. Meeting Lyndsay and loving her has showed me that.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I was back in Rebus around ten that morning. I didn’t rent a room, I wasn’t sure if I would ever leave Nightly Incorporated again. Instead I stopped at the Old Hat Café, where I first met Mr. Nightly. A new waitress took my order of a soft drink. I needed something a little more flavorful than water. My heart was already at a faster pace than normal. Nowhere near the pace it’s at during a shootout or car chase but it getting there. The longer I waited, the more anxious it became. The waitress returned with my drink and before she could get three steps away the glass was empty. It took a while for her to realize I needed a refill. I took a moment to enjoy the day. It was nice, sunny for once in Rebus. The air was cool and it was peaceful. For the moment I could rest, and for the moment I could just relax before the action. This was the calm before the storm for the day. I was going head first into a hurricane but right now, I was taking my time.

The waitress refilled my drink and this one I drank slower. The reflection of the sun made the midnight purple Camaro shine. I thought about my old car and what had happened to it. I assumed the Russians had taken it after the restaurant was set on fire. Maybe one day I would find it again. I could always try and get another. Maybe do another job for a rich family. For now though, the Camaro would do. I didn’t even know if I was coming back out. To all the bystanders out today, it was just a normal day. No one knew that there was going to be chaos in just a matter of hours. I didn’t even know exactly what was going to happen all I did know was that I was getting to the top floor of Nightly Incorporated welcome or not. If I had to fight my way through then so be it, but I was getting up there. I finished my drink, left money of the table and got back in my car. I drove towards Nightly Incorporated ready for the next event. I felt as if the world again stopped for a moment when I stopped the car at the stop sign across the street. Straight ahead of me was the building, the 46 story tall monument. There was no one around the building, as if it gave off some sort of weird feeling to where you couldn’t be around it long. The doors didn’t move and everything was silent to me. I took in a deep breath and checked my seatbelt to make sure it was tight. I checked my guns and made sure they were ready. Closing my eyes I pictured Lyndsay. I pictured her in my dream, smiling her beautiful smile. I pictured her hand in mine and her being happy. I pictured us together for the rest of our lives sharing our moments together. I motivated myself with Lyndsay and her smile. That beautiful smile that would make even the sun and all the stars jealous. That smile that could light up the darkest corners of space itself. That beautiful Lyndsay Nadine smile. I opened my eyes and pressed the gas of the Camaro to the floor, heading straight towards the building.

The main floor of Nightly Incorporated was quiet and busy like any other day. No one really expected a midnight purple Camaro to come crashing through the front doors. Glass shattered across the entire floor. People dropped to the ground and covered their eyes. Pedestrians on the street were staring. The car slid to a stop and the debris stopped flying and the room was quiet. The people on the main floor gathered themselves and stood, staring at the car. Someone spoke into a two way radio and men with automatic weapons filed out into the main room from every which way, their gun barrels pointing right towards the mess. There was no movement anywhere and the room became tenser. One man walked slowly up to the Camaro and opened the driver side door. It was totally empty. Another man opened the passenger door, and it too was empty. Everyone strained their minds with questions. Some people scratched their heads while others just stared in total confusion. The puzzled room was interrupted a moment later by the sound of gunfire. A moment later the men that opened the door fell to the floor. Blood stained the fronts of their shirts and pooled beneath them. The room erupted in chaos. People started running every which way and the men with the guns took cover. To the people in the room it sounded as if only one shot had been fired, yet still two people fell. Before they could think twice about it bullets intruded into their chests and through their hearts and the rest of the men fell.

I walked in over the glass and debris, stepping carefully. The fearful eyes of the unarmed people on the first floor jerked towards me as I entered. The man with the two way radio began to speak again. A perfectly fired shot pushed the radio out of his hand, shattering it. He jerked back then dropped to the floor. My guns were empty. I hit the release buttons on my guns and let the magazines fall to the floor. In a smooth motion I reloaded two more clips into the guns. I holstered my pistols and walked over to the first guy I shot. I grabbed his rifle and two extra magazines he had and then looked around. No one moved as I walked slowly towards the stairs. I had a long walk up, 46 stories to go, but I knew the elevators would trap me. I needed room to move. I entered the stairs and closed the door behind me. I couldn’t lock the door so instead I took of my jacket and tied it around the handle and around the railing of the stairs. It wouldn’t hold for long but it would hold for now. Turning I looked towards the stairs and then up to see how far they went. After taking in a deep breath and letting it out, I started to jog, slowly up the stairs.

I still had the automatic gun drawn as I went up the stairs. I had fired my pistols empty again and so I was now down to 20 bullets. I wanted to avoid another shootout but now I could use my new toy to get through it. I made it to the 5th floor before any kind of action took place. Four men came out on the floor above me and were firing rounds down the stairs. The bullets bounced off and ricocheyed this way and that. I rolled behind the rails. It didn’t give me much cover but it was enough. The men filed down the stairs, I had chosen this way for another reason. Only one person could fit on these stairs at a time so the men had to come down single file. This made my job way easier. I listened for their footsteps and when they were close enough I leaned out from behind my cover and fired the automatic weapon. The men fell as the stock of the gun pressed into my shoulder. It was hard to control and I wasted at least ten rounds holding the trigger down. The bullets came out fast and tore through the men. They fell like dominoes then slid down the stairs, leaving a scarlet trail behind. I stood up and skipped over the men and rushed up the next flight of stairs.

I stopped taking a leisurely pace after the first shootout on the stairs; I needed to get moving fast so I took the next 18 flights at a sprint. When I hit the 23rd floor, my heart was pounding and my breathing was heavy. I didn’t think I’d be able to keep going unless I took a break. As the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for. As I neared the stairs to the 23rd floor my heart sank. The entire flight was blocked completely off. There were desks and chairs and file cabinets all piled up to block any exit or entrance that way. They were funneling me in. I had to go into the door to the 22nd floor and try and find another way up. I was pretty sure I could get on the elevator and ride up one floor before they could shut it down. I gathered my breath and took a moment to rest. When I heard footsteps below and Russians shouting I rushed inside onto the 22nd floor.

This floor looked like a completely normal office building, but totally evacuated. I guess when the gunfire downstairs was heard the building let all of its employees go. I rushed in, through the maze of cubicles and desks. I saw the elevator doors and made my way there. A bullet whizzed past my head and imbedded itself into the wall in front of me. Without a thought I rolled behind a desk and over turned it for better cover. Russians filed in from the stairs. One of them from behind was shouting at them in Russian, I assumed he was shouting orders, I had no idea though. They were lining up in a way where soon they would have me totally surrounded. I needed to keep moving or I would be trapped. I leaned out and fired the automatic weapon at the door to the stairs. I rolled to my left, closer to the elevator doors. The Russians opened fire back towards me and I had to sprint in almost a crouch to keep from getting hit. Bullets whizzed past my head over and over. I could hear them and feel their heat. I slid behind another desk. I didn’t bother to aim this time and I stuck my new gun over the top of the desk and fired. I heard the bullets hit the wall but I don’t think I hit a single person. Using the moment of pause before the return fire stared I rushed towards the elevator and pressed the button. Out of the reflection of the metal panel I saw a man aiming his weapon. I turned and flipped up a desk just in time for it to stop his bullets. I could feel the desk crack and vibrate as each bullet hit it. The elevator doors opened and I rushed in. The Russians in the room closed in towards me. One man got there before the doors could close and stuck his hand between the doors to make them open. I don’t think he remembered I was on the other side. I pressed the barrel of the automatic weapon at his forehead and smiled.
“Hello and goodbye friend” I said as I pulled the trigger. My gun clicked and not a single bullet came out, I was out of ammo. The Russian I was threatening looked at me confused then gathered himself and took a couple steps back and aimed his gun at me. He smiled at me now. I stood still. Could this be it? Could it all end because I forgot to check my ammo? The Russian man pulled the trigger and the gunfire erupted from the barrel. I closed my eyes and dropped the automatic weapon.

My ears were invaded with the repetitive sound of gunfire and bullets against metal. I heard the shots being fired yet I didn’t feel any pain. After a moment I opened my eyes and smiled after what I saw. The elevator doors had shut again just before the Russian fired his gun. The bullets were being totally blocked by the metal door as the elevator shot up to the 23rd floor. How lucky was I. The doors opened the reveal the next floor. I thought since we were all caught off guard I could make it up another one this way or two, I pressed the 25th floor button. The doors slid shut and I felt the elevator start to move up again. I watched as the digital reader clicked to 24 and waited for the 25. As I was watching, I heard a click and felt a bump. That’s when the lights went out and I was in the dark.

I should have known better and just gotten off at the 23rd floor. But there was no fun in doing things the easy way. In the elevator I couldn’t see a thing; I couldn’t even see my own hand in front of my face. I knew it was only a matter of time before they would open the doors and I would have to be somewhere else but here. I could hide where the buttons are but that wouldn’t last. I didn’t have many options it seemed. I might just have to fight it out. Fumbling around I found one of the extra magazines for the automatic rifle I had taken. It took me a good while to get the old magazine out and the new one in the rifle but I got it. I stood still for a moment to relax when I heard a snap. Here we go. I thought to myself. But the elevator doors didn’t budge; instead I heard another snap and then felt the elevator tilt. They were cutting the lines. There was one last snap, and then the feeling of falling.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Russians cut the lines of the elevators and turned off the safety locks. There was no way their intruder could survive such a thing. They heard the snaps of the ropes and then the satisfying screech of a falling elevator. Through each floor it fell, with every story it gained more and more speed. 23 stories later there was the beautiful sound of the crash. Everyone was already rushing down the stairs to see the carnage they had caused. Power was restored so the second elevator could now run and the doors would open to reveal what once was an elevator now crushed against the floor. The Russians lined themselves up to make sure no one could escape if somehow he survived. They had the entire elevator area surrounded when the doors began to move and slide open. Guns were cocked and ready to fire. Not an eye looked away from those doors. It seemed like days passed for those doors to open, they were slightly slower from being bent but most of it was the anxious feeling that finally the Russians had taken out their biggest problem. As the doors finished open everyone looked inside. The lights flickered on and the dust and smoke cleared. The room became tensor and everyone clenched their weapons tightly. The last of the smoke cleared and the carnage was revealed.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I wiped the sweat from my forehead and watched as the other elevator crashed to the floor. I saw the light shine in when the doors opened. One of the men shouted angrily and fired at the debris anyways. I laughed a little and then leaned down to open the access panel of the elevator I was on now. It opened easily and I dropped into the new elevator, the one that hadn’t been crushed into pieces. Pressing the button I rode this elevator to the top floor. I knew that this time I could make it before they could shut the power off again. Besides now this elevator was the only way up to the top floor. I watched the digital floor reader go up floor after floor till it read out 46. I was smiling when the doors opened. I had made it, and now because of the block on the stairs and the destroyed elevator it was just me and Vaughn up here. He had nowhere to run.

As I stepped out the room was empty. There were two large doors ahead of me; a receptionist desk was beside them. There was a waiting area with a couple chairs and a table with magazines on it. This was it, I had finally made it to Vaughn himself and now I could end this for all. Most importantly though, now I could find Lyndsay and I could save her. She was my motivation for all of this, and was the reason I was here. You do crazy things for love. You might spend your last dime on a dozen flowers for her, or invade an office filled with armed Russians ready and urging to kill you. Either way you do it out of love. I stretched my back and felt it crack in three or four different places. I leaned back into the elevator and placed the automatic rifles barrel on top of the panel. I held down the trigger as the gun fired repeatedly into the panel until the lights of the elevator went out and the doors started to shut. I dropped the gun and stole my arm away before it got crushed. The lights on the outside of the elevator went out. Now there was no way out. I walked up to the large double doors in front of me and took in a breath. This was it. I pushed the doors open hard so they swung back and slammed against the wall.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Vaughn Nightly was terrified when he heard the gunfire below after the car crashed through the front doors. He had heard the Vitaly had somehow survived the restaurant and knew he would find his way here. Vaughn wished desperately that he would be stopped. When the falling elevator crash to the first floor his office shook a little and Vaughn smiled. There was no way he could have gotten out of that. Vaughn was glad now that Drake had taken Lyndsay. He tried to keep her around for his own fun but he took her anyways. Now Vitaly Penn had no reason to kill him, if somehow he was still alive. Vaughn looked out of his office window and down at the city of Rebus. This is where it would all begin. The satellite would be installed here, on top of this building and then the motherland would fire the missile. It would nuke the United State’s largest nuclear plant setting mass panic and radiation throughout the country. But that was only the first missile of three. The next one was aimed for Washington DC, this was a missile with a warhead to wipe out all of DC and some parts of Maryland. This would kill all moral of the United States and cut the head of the snake. The final missile was aimed at the port in Southern Louisiana, the largest port in all of the United States. After that the troops would invade and before the United States could blink twice it would be gone, and Russia would have won.

Vaughn smiled at the thought of the plan. Russia was dominant and should be ruler of the world. They were the dominant race and this was the best way to prove it. Vaughn laughed a little at the people below, all the totally oblivious civilians. His laugh was interrupted by the sound of gunfire. He turned and faced his office doors. He heard footsteps outside and stepped back a little. Was it possible?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Vaughn Nightly was standing with his back at his window when I entered the room. His face was a look of confusion, disbelieve and fear. He didn’t say a word as I walked up to the other side of the desk in his room. He simple stared, as if I were some kind of phantom. I guess to him, I was.
“Mr. Nightly, I believe we have an appointment” I greeted mockingly. Vaughn didn’t move and he didn’t answer. He stood totally still.
“Before I kill you, I need you to tell me where Lyndsay is.” I demanded of him. He swallowed hard and then pointed at me.
“How did you survive all of this?” he asked, shakily. I laughed a little,
“Either I am really lucky, or you’re bad at your job.” I answered. Vaughn tried to step back as I stepped forward and was blocked by the glass. He pushed up against it.
“Where is Lyndsay Vaughn?” I said drawing one of my pistols and holding pointing it directly between his eyes.
“Drake took her! Drake Petrov! I swear. He went back to the docks for a shipment!” Vaughn answered me excitedly. Of course he did I thought. For you sake you should make peace with God, you’ll be seeing him soon.” I said to him. Vaughn’s eyes became huge and his mouth opened slightly. He stared to say no but was interrupted by the sound of a gunshot.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Vaughn closed his eyes when he saw the trigger being pulled and was amazed that after the shot was fired he wasn’t dead. Below he could hear sirens. The police were here below and there was no way Vitaly could get out of this mess. He opened his eyes to see the smoke from Vitaly’s gun in front of him. Vitaly’s eyes were dark and cold and his hand was steady. He had become a killer, but for some reason hadn’t shot Vaughn.
“You missed.” Vaughn said to Vitaly. Vitaly only smiled and placed his gun back in the docker’s clutch he was wearing. Vaughn was confused. That’s when he heard the glass crack behind him. Vitaly pointed to his left and Vaughn saw a newly formed hole in the glass. Eight different cracks formed from it, each one shooting through the entire glass. Vaughn held his breath as the glass started to break. He looked at Vitaly for help; maybe he would show mercy Vaughn thought. Vitaly stepped back and spoke.
“Shooting you would be doing you a favor.”
Vaughn reached out as the glass cracked again, louder this time. Vitaly smiled and then turned and walked away. Vaughn tried to shout but his voice broke when the glass behind him finally gave way. It shattered entirely now, sending an ear piercing sound throughout the sky. The broken glass was falling to the ground and Vaughn along with it. Before he hit the ground Vaughn could only remember one thing. The eyes of his killer, the cold eyes of Vitaly.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I left Vaughn Nightly’s office. I had to use the stairs to get down and jump over the barricade on the 23rd floor. I didn’t go to the first floor; instead I went to the second and freefell from there to avoid the Russians below. I heard the sirens approaching and knew I needed to leave. With my guns holstered and my adrenaline still running I took my first step towards the docks, towards Drake Petrov, and towards Lyndsay.

The walk toward the docks was a long one. I took my time, making sure I had plenty of energy for when I confronted Drake Petrov. I thought back to when I first got into this mess. How my morning started out totally normal then all of a sudden I was running through flames and running from the police. How all of this started with a simple phone call from a man who I just killed. Just another man I had killed. Before this I had never fired my gun. I had only drawn in occasionally and now my hands shot perfectly straight and I never seemed to miss. It was a scary thought, how I had killed people but it was the truth and it didn’t bother me anymore. My mind thought about Randall, how I saved him in the manager’s office and how we escape. How I tricked the bouncer and did the card trick with the drunken guys. I thought about how Randall and I ran and stayed at the motel. I thought about my S5 and what had happened to it. I remembered the plane exploding, flight 132 when I thought Randall had made it to safety. I remember the first time I set eyes on Lyndsay. How I set the warehouse on fire and saved her, shooting over my shoulder at the men keeping her. My memories stopped when I made it to the dock entrance. This time, this really was where it ended.

I walked through the entrance to the docks. There was no guard here and I saw that same black Mercedes I had seen so many times before. Drake Petrov was here alright and it was his time to answer for what he had done. I didn’t see anyone and all I could hear were the ocean waves against the docks. I looked around everywhere and started walking towards the black Mercedes. Then I heard a scream. I looked up and saw two figures on top one of the cranes at the docks. I sprinted towards the ladder on the crane and climbed as fast as I could. The whole climb I could hear the screams and it pushed me harder and harder.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

After Drake dragged Lyndsay out of the Mercedes he took her towards the cranes. He needed to get rid of her once and for all and this was just one way to do it. She walked towards the cranes, a gun in her back and was forced up the ladder as Drake climbed behind her. He didn’t say much just shoved and pushed her around repeatedly. The occasional times he did speak it was mostly Russian. Lyndsay’s face was red on one side and her nose was bleeding slightly. Although she wasn’t crying out of fear there were tears in her eyes. She pulled herself up on top of the crane where the driver would sit and Drake came up behind her. For a moment she thought to try and stomp his hands and watch him fall but she knew it wouldn’t work. She was trapped and she knew it. All she could hope for was that somehow Vitaly survived. Drake pushed her towards the edge and against the safety rail. Lyndsay stopped and turned towards him, a look of question on her face.
“Climb over it” Drake said in a thick accent. Lyndsay paused for a moment and debated on just ignoring the demand until Drake held the gun to her head and cocked the hammer back.
“Now!” he demanded more sternly. This time Lyndsay did as she was told and climb over the safety rail. Drake followed and they walked carefully down to the edge of the crane’s arm. The wind was blowing harder up here and a couple of times both of them had to stop and catch their balance. But Drake pushed Lyndsay farther and farther until the only place left to go was down. Lyndsay turned around to face Drake. She could either jump (the water could save her maybe) or try and fight her way out of this. She decided on the latter knowing that at least that way she had a chance. Drake pointed the gun at her head.
“You have a choice. Jump or be shot.” Drake said. Lyndsay thought for a moment or pretended to then grabbed for Drakes arm to disarm him.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I made it to the top of the crane and could see Drake and Lyndsay at the end. Lyndsay was on the ground and Drake had a gun held at her head. I didn’t have a lot of time. I sprinted towards the end of the crane’s arm.
“Petrov!” I shouted as loud as possible. Lyndsay saw me and her face lit up. She smiled, through all of this, she smiled. It caught my off guard and a bullet almost hit my leg. Luckily the wind was strong enough to make it veer from its course.
“Penn! You are hard to kill aren’t you?!” Drake shouted back at me in his thick Russian accent. He took a few steps toward me without lowering his gun. I saw Lyndsay start to move then I put my hand up for her to stop. Drake was only a few steps away now and his bullets would fly straight.
“I prefer to do things myself anyways.” He shouted at me still holding the gun towards me.
“I don’t want it to come to this, just let Lyndsay go.” I shouted back. Drake laughed.
“What won’t people do for love?! You’re just like your father!” Drake shouted towards me, taking another step closer. He caught me off guard with that sentence.
“What do you know about my father!?” I shouted back, angrier now. Drake smiled an evil smile.
“Just as much about him as I do your mother.” He said back. He was in talking distance now. Lyndsay stayed quiet, either out of knowing if she moved we were both dead, or maybe she was just as curious as I was now.
“How do you know my mother?” I asked Drake. The evil smile never faded from his face.
“You’re half Russian Vitaly! You’re dad was Russian! He was one of us! He was trained by us and worked for the Russian government. He was involved in all of this chaos!” Drake answered me. I didn’t believe him and while he was laughing again I drew my gun and held it to his head. My heart was racing and I was angry. How could he make up such lies?
“Don’t be angry with me that your father was involved!” Drake said mockingly. My eyes didn’t leave his as he laughed again. My hand was steady and it didn’t waiver from his head at all.
“Your father was a Russian traitor though!” shouted Drake. “Vladimir Penn!” Drake spit after saying his name. “After we sent him here to America first and he screwed up the entire plan by falling in love with that American girl Abigail. She was a disgusting wench. How could someone of Russian blood love some low life American its pathetic! Your father tried to stop us; he tried to stop this wonderful plan! But we took care of him. He was no problem at all, especially after we killed Abigail.” Drake laughed. If was he was saying was true, Abigail was my mother.
“Oh you should have seen the look on your fathers face. How angry he was. You look just like him.” Drake roared with laughter again and my heart started to sink and my hand quivered slightly. Was this all true?
“Have you ever felt like you aren’t supposed to be alive Vitaly?” asked Drake. “That’s because you aren’t! After we sabotaged your birth you were supposed to die along with your whore of a mother!” Drake laughed again.
“You’re lying.” I said to him.
“I am afraid I am not. We killed your mother to try and convince your father to finish his mission but instead he went rogue and we had to take care of him too. Somehow you got away in the chaos and we lost track of you. But you were supposed to die with your mother.” Drake spit again. “If your father hadn’t have given you away to protect you we would have found you and we would have killed you too. And that would have been the end of the Penn family tree!” Drake shouted. “But now we have to deal with you, just like we did with your traitorous father!” Drake shouted. I took a step back and held my gun tighter.
“This can’t be true! You’re lying!” I shouted. Drake laughed again, it made my hand shake with anger and I almost pulled the trigger until he spoke again.
“Vitaly, you’re Russian. This is the truth and you know it.” I was caught off guard and taken totally by surprise. I didn’t believe him but he was right.

After working so many years in private investigations you learn to tell when someone is lying and when someone is being totally honest. You can tell by their eyes. This can be very helpful at times but it can also hurt you dreadfully. Now was one of the hurtful times. Drake Petrov wasn’t lying; he was telling me the truth. My father was a Russian traitor and tried to stop this mess. My father gave me away to protect me and was trying to save me. I had never thought I would forgive him but at that moment I did and I finally understood why I never met him. It was for my own good. I had an epiphany that day on the crane but I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it.

I stepped back towards Drake, both of our arms were outstretched, each of our guns pointing at one another heads. There was no room to run and no cover to hide behind this was a straight out shooting match. Ten paces, turn and fire like the old days, we just skip the paces. Drake didn’t shake and nor did I. The only sound we heard was the wind blowing. Drake’s eyes and mine didn’t break contact. I knew that both of us would probably not make it out of this alive. Whoever shot first would be killed when the other person died and their finger pressed against the trigger. The moment was tense and there was nothing either of us could do. It was either shoot and be shot or don’t shoot and be shot. Lyndsay stared from the end of the crane but didn’t move. The wind picked up a little and waves continued to crash against the docks. Even as we stood here, guns at each other’s heads, time still moved on.

Drake smiled at something but I didn’t know what. He started to move and my finger started to pull the trigger. Drake took a step back and pulled his gun away from my head. I didn’t move.
“Vitaly” he said to me. I didn’t answer him.
“Tell your father I said hello.” Drake turned and started to run towards Lyndsay. I shouted after him and fired my gun. The wind was too strong and the bullets went of course. I chased after him and fired my last two shots in one of my pistols. I didn’t bother reloading it; I dropped it to the ground and drew the other one. Drake Petrov held his gun to Lyndsay’s head and then looked at me. I saw him smile and his finger started to pull the trigger. I shouted as loud as possible for him to stop and drowned myself out with another shot at him. It missed and he began to pull the trigger. I had jumped forward and fired the last nine shots of my gun. After my gun stopped firing there only one had hit Drake, but it hit right where it needed too.

A bullet buried itself into Drake Petrov’s wrist and sent his hand along with his gun flying into the water. He stood, gripping his bloody wrist, eyes wide in pain. He looked at me and shouted. When I hit the ground I rolled and reloaded the last clip into my gun. I paused and aimed at Drake, his eyes were fearful now but only for a minute. He shouted in Russian at me but his voice was cut off when a bullet went through his throat. Two more went into his chest and a last one between the eyes. Drake Petrov took a slow step back before his eyes rolled back. Blood ran from the hole in his head down his face as the same blood ran from his throat. His skin turned into a scarlet river as he fell backwards. He fell from the edge of the crane and down into the water with a splash and that was the end of him. And yet, time still moved on. I smiled because it was over and looked at Lyndsay, her eyes were closed and when I touched her shoulder she jerked. Then I spoke,
“Lyndsay, it’s okay.” I said to her. She opened her eyes, her beautiful brown eyes. Those beautiful brown eyes that made everything better. She smiled,
“Vitaly.” She said, then her mouth opened wider and she shouted.
“Vitaly Loo-!” her voice was cut off. My vision went black and I felt myself spinning. A sharp pain went through my head and my shoulder. I felt my back and head hit the crane, then I was falling. I could feel myself bleeding. Before I hit the water I lost all consciousness and I didn’t hear another sound. The last thought to run through my head was that smile Lyndsay had and her beautiful eyes. That was the end of it and still time moved on.

I jumped up from the cold ground and looked around. The room was dark and I couldn’t see anything around me. I could hear myself breathing and footsteps outside. My head hurt terribly and so did my shoulder. I had bandages on both wounds but I never put them on. I reached for my gun but it was gone. My head was spinning and I was lost. I walked forward and reached out. There were bars, like the ones your find in a jail cell. I leaned against them and peered through into the darkness. In the corner I saw a dim light. There was a desk with a newspaper on it. The light was coming from a hole in whatever kind of ceiling this was. I couldn’t read the words, it was some kind of foreign language but the picture spoke for itself. It was the white house in Washington DC, but it wasn’t like it used to be. It was torn to pieces and all the surrounding area with it. It was a mess and I had a feeling the rest of the United States, maybe even the world looked similar.

Was it true? Did the Russians really invade the USA and start a nuclear war? How far had they gotten? Was anyone left? I was confused and totally lost. My head started to hurt the more I thought and I had to sit down. Sitting with my back against the cold bars and on the cold floor of wherever I was I let my mind wander crazily. Where was I? What happened at the docks? What hit me? How did I get here? I couldn’t see anything and there were no sounds now. My jail cell or so I assumed was silent and I was totally lost. I thought about him falling off the crane. His hand missing and how he was bleeding. I thought of how his eyes rolled back. I reminisced about Vaughn and how he fell through his office window to the ground below. I thought about Mr. Russel, how was shot down at the restaurant. It was over, and my heart sank with every new though. I stood up and looked back at the newspaper with the picture on it.

I knew all hope seemed to be lost, but there had to be something I could do. I was so confused and so lost and had so many questions. Where was Lyndsay? What happened to my home? I knew I had to get out and I had to do something. I had to find some way to fix this mess. I had to find Lyndsay. I needed to know exactly what happened. My head was spinning worse now and it hurt terribly. I couldn’t stop thinking though. Until I heard the voice,

All of my thoughts were interrupted by a sound. In the dim light of wherever I was a voice spoke to me.

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