The moon shined on the slick runways. A stitch in my side pained my breathing. But I was being forcibly marched by Dzagov the silent Russian. He was the teams equipment expert. He could figure out how anything manual worked or design it to work better for their needs. Basically, the Russian Einstein, or so I've been told.
"Stop here." Sergai called out. "Wait for the others, they're tired." Despite blaming the others fatigue, the rest was just as much for Sergai as them. Granted we had left seven members of our cross country terrorist team well behind, but I ran track in high school, so I couldn't be bothered to wait. My body was now informing me that high school was a long time ago, as a lurch from my previous dinner found its way back into my taste buds.
Bjorn came huffing and puffing his way past us. "If I stop, I won't get going again." He called as he sprinted away.
"Go right!" Sergai called after him. "Hangar 2!"
Bjorn gradually swerved his run to find the large building with a two over it. He looked like a tank with legs. His muscles bulged out from under his clothing. He had to have been close to 300 pounds of pure muscle and stature.
Franck came up to me and rested on the steps of hangar bay 9 with me. He sat down and stared. "You know, I never had many friends growing up. Well no one was around except my horse Guin. When she died, that was the worst day of my life. You and I shared a bottle of schnapps for my birthday last month, and now I find you are an international policeman. . . this is the second worst day of my life." He put his hand on my knee and gave it two pats, picked up his pack, and started running again.
If he hadn't had a hand in over two dozen terrorist plots currently threatening millions of lives around the world, I may have felt bad for the guy.
"Get up you lazy tosser!" Bradley, a former british special operative gave me a solid kick to get me moving again.
He kicked me twice more to make sure I got the message. I made a special note that I will kill him first if I get the chance.
On we went, running in a mob like a herd of cattle toward my impending doom. I realized I had no reason to give into their demands at this point. I was going to die either way, I supposed. A bullet, a far fall, a slit throat; and then I wondered if I would get a Queen's commendation for bravery.
I was an idiot to think that a government would ever believe my story. What government agency ever gets things right the first go around. I knew of none.
Three minutes and fourteen cuss words later, the mob arrived at the door. Sergai gave a pound on the door. The hangar seemed much more fortified than the others. Snipers were on the rafters with clear lines of sight across the runways. They must have seen us coming in. What a life they must've had at the sight of Bjorn trying to turn at full sprint. 'Not exactly a nimble cat, was he?' I thought I'd ask them if we were on friendlier terms. Could've had a good laugh with them if they weren't working for a man who wanted me dead at the moment.
The ten ton, six foot thick, and forty feet wide door slid open a crack, and we all squeezed in. This was more than a hangar. It looked like a bunker, or a forward command center for an invasion. Gun racks and grenades and heavy artillery rounds sat in row upon row inside the massive hangar. It was by far the largest one at Heathrow.
"Ah my family has arrived!" Challini sauntered over and gave hugs and kisses where they were do. And lastly, he came to me. "Mr. Harris, I don't think we've been properly introduced." He gave me a wry smile thinking he was the most clever man in the room.
"No, we've met. In Florence, you're home town, you called me a cheeky git, remember." Challini shook my hand and smiled dangerously.
"Oh of course, how could I have forgotten."
A pause insued. I couldn't help but retort. "Probably because you're head is so far up the Queen's arse that you couldn't tell which way to go to get rid of that smell and the fake tan you got from her majesty's royal treatment."
Bjorn and Franck burst out laughing but with a sharp glance from Sergai, they silenced.
"Clever Mr. Harris but it is time for you to see what you have inspired. I don't think you'll be Mr. jokes after that." Isabella took my arm and led me up the stairs into a control area. She pushed me into a chair and handcuffed me to the control panel.
"You know I had a dream about you that went a little something like this, once." I laughed.
"I bet it didn't end with me choking you with steel cord until you shat your pants, or did you have the same dream I'm having right now, too?" She was cold and vendictive. Whatever sent her on this path was ingrained so down deep that she could turn into a modern day witch. Needless to say, she scared me more than all the men because when she said something insanely cruel and threatening, she would always deliver if called out on a potential bluff.
She walked out of the office and slammed the door, muttering something obscene. A moment later,Challini and Sergai came in and sat down in front of me. "Mr. Harris we are going to show you something."
"I can't wait."
"That eager to die, Matthew?" Sergai asked.
"I'm dying of bordom now anyway, let's go." If the last thing I could do was piss of the world's most wanted terrorist, then by God was I going to try.
"Fine then." Challini said. "Bring them in."
Challini brought in six masked victims and forced them to kneel in front of me. One by one he removed their masks. The first was a representative in the parliament, a woman by the name of Lillian Cortes. The second was the former chief of police, Joseph Otto. The third was an airport security guard, with a name tag that read, Thomas Mund. The fourth was a lawyer who was famous for over ruling a goverment spy bill that coincidentally would have prevented me from being thrown under cover in the first place. The fifth was my first boss at German Intelligence, Jurgen Van Kluug. And the last was a young woman. She was the youngest of them all and strikingly beautiful. She had tanned skin and long blonde hair. There was something about her that I remembered. She was close to my age, early twenties probably.
The group was quiet as their masks were taken off, readjusting to the light. I knodded at Kluug as he met my gaze. I knew that I could depend on him to take whatever punishment necessary to get us all out of here. He was the second most hardened man I'd ever met; second to my father of course.
"Do you recognize them all, Matthew?" Challini asked.
"All except her." I jerked my head towards the girl.
"Ah, Johanna. I'm not surprised you don't remember her. You met very briefly and several years ago. It was in Hamburg. One of your first cases. Jurgen handpicked her, forcibly of course, to come see you again. He said you would always ask how she was doing for weeks after you killed her father."
I looked into her blue eyes and instantly remembered her. She was the daughter of a cop killer. He had received bail through a corrupt local court system and tried to flee the country.I caught up with him at his goodbyes to his own daughter on the outskirts of Hamburg. He used her as a human shield, and to spare her life, I took his.
"Jurgen said you never forgave yourself for not finding a way out for both of them. . . and tonight, we're going to make you do the same thing over again. You will decide, and you alone, who lives and who dies today, Matthew, yourself included."