Last Updated: March 10, 2017 11:42:06
If they were going to get out of this alive, they were going to have to be ghosts. Viktor ‘Czar’Prakenskii faced his men and their disapproving faces. He detested arguments, especially, like now, when they had very little time.
“Let me clear the way,” Savvy ‘Reaper’ Pajari said. His eyes were flat and cold. Ice cold. There was no emotion what-so-ever in his voice.
Viktor knew he was the cause of that emotionless voice. He had that on his soul forever. There was no taking back their childhood or the things they’d had to do to surviveâ€”things that Viktor had conceivedâ€”just like this job. It was all on him and he wasn’t going to allow them to surround him like they all preferred, keeping him safe. This was his mess. He had never been able to put the “breaks” on, to say enough. For him, it was never enough and where he went, the others followed.
“Not happening,” he said, his voice low, terse. He was angry, but not at any of his brothers. At himself. He’d chosen a path and one by one they had followed him. His path had led straight to hell. “We don’t have time to argue. We knew walking into this it was a trap. Nothing has changed.”
Dmitry ‘Storm’ Poval sighed heavily. “We all voted, Czar, just like always. Stop trying to carry us on your shoulders. We chose this life. All of us.”
Viktor clenched his teeth. That was a blatant lie. None of them had chosen their life. Not a single one. They all shared a common beginning. Each of them had parents murdered by a man named Kostya Sorbacov, because their parents hadn’t agreed with Sorbacov’s politics. He had taken the children to the most brutal orphanage/school ever conceived in the hopes of shaping them into assets for his countryâ€”at least that’s what they all thought at first.
“That’s bullshit, but we don’t have time to debate right now. The longer we wait, the more men they’ll have guarding this place.”
The thought of what he was going to find turned his stomach, but then, it always did and he kept doing the same thing over and over. Five years of his life had been given to this mission. Evan Gratsos-Shackler was the number one human trafficker in the world. Viktor knew he couldn’t stop everyone, but he was determined to take the man down. That decision had cost him five years of his life, possibly his marriage and the knowledge that the men he called brothers had made the choice to follow him into hell, just as they always had.
He refused to argue with them any longer. He simply gave them a small salute and pushed through the wall to find his entry point. The warehouse where the chapter of the infamous Swords motorcycle club had set up shop, already renting out the young girls they’d acquired only a scant two to three weeks earlier was in the industrial district. They moved them often in order to stay one step ahead of the cops.
This time, they had more new girls, most between the ages of eleven and sixteen, just the age Evan preferred to add to his stable. They lasted longer. Right now, they were ‘training’ the new girls which meant beatings and rape to get them to the point they felt hopeless and so afraid they would do anything they were told.
Viktor knew what that was like. They all knew and yet for five long years they’d ridden with the scum, wore their colors, and defended them when they went to war. For this. For these moments. To take some of it back, and hopefully draw Evan out into the open where they could get to him. So Viktor could get to him. Evan Gratsos-Shackler represented every one of those pedophiles and sadistic monsters that had run the school. The rage that burned so hot in Viktor’s belly night and day had come to demand the death of the human trafficker.
They’d wreaked enough havoc over the years to keep every Swords chapter on alert, especially when they brought in new girls. Viktor ran two teams, and often they hit two chapters simultaneously, but lately it had become more difficult. Evan demanded the girls bring in money day and night, seven days a week, so even when baiting a trap, they kept the women working and the lines long. It was no different in spite of the storm brewing.
There were guards hidden in the brush surrounding the warehouse on all sides. The roof connected with a second warehouse housing mostly heavy equipment for a local contractor. Viktor chose that building to make the penetration into the Swords makeshift brothel. There were at least two guards between him and the building.
The chapter was spread thin trying to surround the building as well as keep the work going. They had to have guards inside to make certain the women were doing as they were told and that the customers didn’t abuse their privileges without paying. They needed men guarding the outside line in order to keep it moving properly. All the while they feared the mystery crew that freed their slaves and killed the members of their chapter would strike.
Viktor and his men had spread fear throughout the Swords club and there was some satisfaction in that, but Evan, although seriously angry, hadn’t personally made an appearance. The man was secretive now, and very paranoid. He had inherited billions from his brother, a Greek shipping magnate, and he had the money to stay hidden for as long as he wanted.
Viktor had been patient, moving up through the ranks of the Swords. He was a huge asset, with his background. There wasn’t a weapon he didn’t know how to use. The club found him very useful. He didn’t mind carrying out the assignments as enforcer because anyone doing business with them was covered in as much slime as they were. One by one, his men had joined after him until, over a period of two years all of them were in the Swords’ club with him. All had come out of the shadows to take his back.
He waited in the darkness until one of the guards grew restless enough to give his position away. Very slowly he began to move from shadow to shadow, always cognizant of the fact that the Swords liked to lay elaborate traps and they always used night vision goggles. He came up behind the man and killed him swiftly, a knife shoved hard into the base of the skull, severing the spinal cord. It was a signature kill for his crew.
To his left, a radio crackled. The noise was muffled. A voice spoke. The guard answered, his voice bored. The moment he stopped speaking, a dull thud followed. Viktor worked his way toward the sound. A body lay on the ground, someone pulling the boots to take it further into the shadows just against the wall of the warehouse. He recognized Reaper.
Shaking his head, Viktor watched as Reaper removed the radio from the dead guard’s ear and put it in his own. He should have known. Reaper had his back in every situation for longer than either cared to remember.
“You don’t follow orders.”
Reaper straightened. “You didn’t give any worth listening to.”
Viktor narrowed his eyes at his enforcer. The man was a law unto himself when it came to protecting Viktor. He was ruthless, relentless and a pain in Viktor’s ass. “Damn it, you take too many risks. You should have stayed out while you had the chance. All of you. Instead you follow me into this mess. Five years of our lives have been given to these scum. This mission. Who knows if we’re really going to get our shot at taking the fucker out.”
Reaper glanced up toward the roof and then sighed. “You don’t have the slightest clue why we all followed you, do you?”
Viktor looked at his friend. There was no evidence of the boy he knew, the young toddler brought to the school a year after Viktor had been ripped from his family. What had he done to Savva Pajari? There was nothing left of him at all. He was Reaper in every way. Slowly he shook his head, his eyes on the man who always had his back, who he loved as family.
“You were free. As free as you could be with Sorbacov alive. You got out and you should have stayed out.”
Reaper shook his head. “We’ll never be free. Alive or dead, that man branded us, turned us into killers. You changed that, and gave us purpose.”
“We did it together.”
“We were animals in there, Viktor, and every one of us would be dead, just like the others, but you made us human again. You gave us a way out.”
There had been a cost. A huge cost. The evidence stood before him in the form of a man, but what was left of Reaper, he wasn’t certain anymore. He shook his head. “You were out. Sorbacov could have sent an army after all of you, but he never would have found you. He didn’t find you, even after you came back out of the shadows to ride with me. None of you should have done that.”
“You give us life. You make us believe. Look around you, Czar. This is where we belong, where we’re always going to belong. We aren’t like the rest of the people. We’ll never be. What they did to usâ€¦” He trailed off shaking his head again.
Viktor wished he could see one small hint of emotion, hear one small inflection in Reaper’s voice, but there wasn’t anything. Just an ice-cold, expressionless mask that became colder with each kill. Viktor detested that for him. Detested the fact that he had set the killing in motion. It might have saved all of their lives, but it didn’t do anything good for Reaper.
“We can get out of this life.”
“Don’t kid yourself. You know better. You want us to be different because you found a woman to love. You want her in your life and you don’t think she’ll accept you as you are. Just so you know, that isn’t love, my friend. She either takes you like you are, with us, with what we have to do, or she isn’t worth it.”
Reaper rarely talked and he never gave anything resembling advice to anyone. Viktor wanted to tell him to go to hell. He didn’t want to think that his woman wasn’t waiting for him. Wouldn’t accept him. Worse, he knew Reaper was right. They had been trained as assassins and worked for their government from the time they were teens, sent out on the most dangerous and the ugliest, vile cases the government had. They were expendable assets, nothing more, not even considered human beings. He knew no other life.
Life had to have purpose. He’d been an unwilling participant for so many years, blackmailed emotionally into doing service for Sorbacov. The deal was simple enough. He had six younger blood brothers, all in different schools and, at the time, working for Sorbacov as well. If Viktor didn’t cooperate, one of his brothers would be tortured and killed.
Viktor had taken the dirtiest jobs, survived them, and continued working until the moment he knew it was safe to disappear. Like the others he’d stashed plenty of money and had multiple identities. He’d met the woman of his dreams and planned to spend the rest of his life with her. But Sorbacov had demanded he take the job to kill Evan Gratsos-Shackler or his youngest brother, working for Interpol would be killed, and he couldn’t stop himself.
Reaper held up his hand and then replied into the radio, his voice a perfect mimic for the guard’s. “All clear here. Very quiet. Yeah, the wind is picking up.”
Viktor flashed him an appreciative grin. He admired the various gifts his brethren had, talents Sorbacov never knew about. Combined, they were unstoppable. They’d survived by banding together and using those gifts.
He glanced up the side of the building. The wind was coming from the west, powerful gusts, but so far, the rain wasn’t pouring down. He could feel drops in the air, and the clouds spun in dark threads overhead, but climbing wasn’t going to be that difficult.
“Your woman knows what you do?” Reaper asked.
He nodded, still looking the side of the building over, determining the best way up. “I told her everything. I had to. She was my ‘in’ to get close to her stepfather. He was a notorious pedophile. He traveled all over the world, and set up a network for others like him. They bought and sold young boys. I fell hard for her, knew right away she was the one. It sucked being undercover, but I married her legitimately. So I had to tell her everything. I had to leave, but told her I’d be coming back for her.”
“What did she say, after you’d just killed her stepfather?”
“I explained who he was and why he couldn’t be prosecuted.” Viktor had already figured out the route he’d use scaling the wall to the roof.
“What did she say?” Reaper repeated.
“I wrote it all out for her, and left the letter on our bed. I haven’t talked to her since. I didn’t dare get in touch with her, it would have put her in too much danger, but I sent her hundred of messages assuring her I’d be coming home. She lives in Sea Haven, the small village where the Prez sent us to get things ready for his arrival.”
Reaper shook his head. “Czar, you’re the smartest man I know, and I respect you in every way, but that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard. You leave your girl a note pinned to the bed and you’re gone for five years.”
Viktor scowled at him. “Not a girl. My old lady. That makes a difference.”
“You’re so fucked. Get up the wall and give us our orders so we can get this done and head for Sea Haven. I can’t wait to meet this woman who has stood by your ass for five long years without one real word from you.”
Reaper was just saying what Viktor already knew. He was fucked. He’d run into Blythe’s sister a few weeks earlier and she’d all but intimated that Blythe was moving on with her life.
“With Evan finally coming out of his hiding place to ride with the Swords to Sea Haven, this thing will be over and I can straighten everything out with her.” But he was afraid it wasn’t going to be that easy. “She lives there with the others.”
Of course Reaper had that information. All seventeen club members knew exactly where Blythe Daniels lived. They’d sworn to look after her if he died. She lived on a farm in Sea Haven with five other women.
The ‘all clear’ signal he’d been waiting for came and he reached up to use his fingertips to pull his body up until he could find a purchase with his toes. He went up fast. He was a big man, incredibly strong, and had good climbing skills. Like all the others, he stayed in the best shape possible and trained continuously.
Once on the roof, he ran across the flat surface, making certain to stay crouched low. He made it to the huge industrial fan churning around and around in the heat of the evening and went still, so still he disappeared into the shadows of the night. He waited a heartbeat or two and then moved his head cautiously to pinpoint the exact location of the three men sitting across on the adjoining rooftop with automatic weapons and night goggles.
Three men on the roof. They’re expecting us, he told his team, speaking telepathically. Night vision. They’ve got the building surrounded. Reaper, you’re up. Ice, you and Storm take the two to the West. We need a clear path if we’re going to do this. From his vantage point on the roof, Viktor directed the action.
The wind had picked up, tearing at his clothes, whipping at him with swirling debris. The clouds hung dark and heavy, swirling above them angrily, threatening that all hell was going to break loose soonâ€”and it was.
Below him, Isaak ‘Ice’ Koval slipped through the dark to come up behind one of the two guards at the outer edge of the building. Reaper would have to climb up the side of the other building, just as Viktor had, before he could dispense with the three guards on the roof. Not actually guards, they were there specifically to kill Viktor’s team. Both men had to deal with the Swords surrounding the building to the West.
One down, Ice reported.
Two down, Dmitry ‘Storm’ Koval added.
Transporter, you go to the East, the front of the building with Alena. Stay in position. We don’t want anyone to know anything is happening until it’s too late. Alena Koval was little sister to Isaak ‘Ice’ and Dmitry ‘Storm’, one of only two female survivors from the school. Needless to say, the men were extremely protective of the two women and, although part of the team and gifted with their own rare talents, both women were guarded as carefully as possible in every situation. Pytor ‘Transporter’ Bolotan knew his job was one of the most important to all of them.
Moving into position, Czar, Transporter acknowledged.
Viktor had done this so many times in the past, orchestrating and carrying out dangerous missions, putting his brothers in the line of fire over and over again. What made it so bad every time now was the knowledge that every single one of the others had been free and clear and they’d joined the Swords to take his back. Reaper might try to explain it to him and on some level he understood, but it didn’t take away the guilt or the knowledge that if any of them were killed this night, that death was squarely on his shoulders.
His brothers were hitting two chapters at the same time. His Vice President, Lyov ‘Steele’ Russak, was running his own team of eight men and one woman, attempting to do exactly as Viktor was doing here. They were hitting another Swords chapter two hundred miles away as they’d been doing for the last three years. Living a double-edged sword, undercover, always one step ahead of death, was common place to them, but it took its toll.
Storm, and Ice follow Reaper up and wait for his go ahead. He tasted something close to fear in his mouth for his brothers.
The three men would take out the guards on the backside of the warehouse where the Swords chapter held the girls. Reaper would go up first and kill the three men sitting with night vision goggles and scopes and then call in the rest of the team. Once again, Reaper would be in the most dangerous position. He’d been taking that position from the time he was five years old.
Savage, and Absinthe, you take the wall to the North. One man is in the driver’s seat of a van parked on the street, pretending to be asleep and there are two more concealed in the long hedge about twenty feet from the building. Savin ‘Savage’ Pajari was Reaper’s younger brother. Like Reaper he was a very scary man. He shaved his head, had more tats than most of them, which was saying a lot and sometimes, the way he looked at Viktor with those empty eyes, shook himâ€”and it was very difficult to shake Czar.
Absinthe was more laid back, but not less lethal. Aleksei ‘Absinthe’ Solokov could have been a great statesman, a man who could have done a lot for his country. Sorbacov hadn’t even bothered to find out about the sons and daughters of his political enemies, he’d simply determined which ones he was going to use as assets and which he would experiment and torture just because he despised their parents. Absinthe had no business being in the occupation of killing, but he’d learned and because he was extraordinary at everything he did, he was good at it.
You’ll have to take out the two in the hedge to get the one in the car before he can raise an alarm. Viktor continued to search the area to the North. He knew from experience, that each chapter had only so many members. As it was, he and his team had been ruthless in killing off the members of the Swords club when they took back the girls. Each time he heard of a fresh shipment, he and Steele strategized to find a way to free the girls and get rid of as many members as possible at the lowest risk to themselves. As the years had passed and the club had been hit hard, security had tightened and the risks had been greater.
He kept his gaze sweeping along the North, while first Savage and then Absinthe killed the two Swords in the hedge and laid them out gently behind the bushes. It was Savage who slipped into position, waiting for Viktor’s signal to give him the go ahead to cross the open area to the van. Of course he would take the most dangerous position.
Viktor had to ensure the three snipers on the rooftop on the adjacent building weren’t looking to the North and the enemy hiding in the car wasn’t paying attention to what was in front of him. The driver seemed nervous, continually looking behind him and around the car, rather than in front. Viktor almost gave the all clear and then something about the way the man cocked his head toward the backseat made every hair on Czar’s body stand up.
It’s a trap, Savage, they’ve got more than the driver in the van.
Instantly there was movement, a shadowy figure sliding from hedge to bush, Reaper coming to back up his brother and Absinthe. Naturally it would be Reaper. Viktor had hesitated this time bringing both Reaper and Savage along. For the last few months, he’d been worried about both of the men he’d grown up with. Reaper and Savage had always been different, even as children, but they were growing apart from the brotherhood. They were quieter, colder, eyes like ice. Neither ever smiled. Never. Not even for Lana or Alena, women they considered a younger sister. Lana made all of them smile with her soft, compelling voice as she broke into song at the tensest times.
This was his fault. If something happened to Reaper or Savage, the blame would be squarely on his shoulders. The brotherhood had made a pack to disappear and one by one the others had. They’d changed names, become chameleons, blending into the world like they’d been taught practically since birth. Not Viktor. He’d taken one last job because Evan Gratsos-Shackler made him sick to his stomach and he needed to protect his blood brothers. Monsters like Evan shouldn’t be allowed to live. Viktor couldn’t get Sorbacov, the man who had murdered his parents, and taken his brothers from him, but he had a chance of bringing down Evan.
Loyalty was a strange emotion, a characteristic he looked for in others and he’d found it at the school where Sorbacov had placed him. Two hundred and eighty-seven students had attended the school. Only eighteen survived the training thereâ€”through loyalty. The eighteen had banded together under Viktor and worked as a whole to survive. They became brothers and sisters, not of blood, but through survival. Torture. Training. Kill or be killed. And it had been Reaper and Savage who had done most of the killing so the others could live.
Although all of the others had been in the wind, impossible for Sorbacov to find, they had one by one followed him on his assignment to rid the world of Evan Gratsos-Shackler, the international president of the most feared motorcycle club in the world, the Swords. Evan had built up a multibillion dollar business in human trafficking. Young women, girls, boys. Lives meant nothing to him, only power and dollar signs.
Viktor had put away his Torpedo Ink colorsâ€”those of the brotherhoodâ€”and worn the hated Sword colors, doing whatever it took to get inside the club and move up fast. What it took turned his stomachâ€”and it took a lot to do thatâ€”but he kept his eye on the prize even as he disrupted as many of the chapters trafficking as possible without jeopardizing his own mission.
What’s the plan, Czar? Reaper asked.
You have a silencer on those guns? Viktor knew the answer. Of course they did. Just about every kill the two brothers made was done in silence. Silence surrounded them.
When Absinthe makes the kill with the driver, you two take the back of the van. It has to be fast and thorough. Not a sound. Simultaneous with Absinthe.
No problem, Savage acknowledged.
Viktor watched from his vantage point, his heart pounding in spite of his ability to control all organs. The best he could give them was cover from the roof, and he made certain to do that, although he had to keep his eyes on the guards, to ensure they weren’t seen.
Need a little commotion, Transporter, you and Alena need to provide that, but make certain you don’t draw any attention to yourselves.
Transporter was a human computer. His hand-eye coordination was astonishing, but more, he could read a book and absorb the entire thing in minutes. It was the same with languages. He figured prominently in all their plans to settle once this was over. He would do the custom work along with a couple of others for their cars and motorcycles.
No problem, Czar. One distraction coming up.
Two minutes later, a fight erupted at the tail end of the line of waiting johns. All three guards hastened over to get a better look, rifles ready.
That should buy us some time, Transporter said.
Now. Now. Viktor gave the go-ahead.
He shifted the rifle to his shoulder. This was a telling moment. If the guards on the roof went back to their sweeps before Absinthe, Reaper and Savage took out the enemy hiding in the van, while Viktor’s back was to them, everything would be lost and there would be a hell of a fire fight.
His three brothers moved into position. He heard the whisper as Reaper gave the order. Reaper and Savage stepped up to the van doors and flung them open, firing rapidly. Viktor knew from long experience, every bullet fired hit a target. Absinthe stepped up simultaneously to the driver’s window and shot the man in the head. Reaper and Savage closed the van doors quietly and melted back into the hedges along-side of the house. Absinthe joined them and then Reaper broke off to go back to his point of entry.
Viktor moved into his original position so he could watch the guards. Go, Reaper, he ordered.
Reaper climbed up the side of the wall like a spider. He was strong. Incredibly strong. He moved fast, but when he went still, like Viktor, he disappeared. One had a much more difficult time disappearing when the enemy wore night goggles.
Night vision, Viktor reminded, willing Reaper to be careful.
On the roof, Reaper reported.
It was impossible to see him, but kills had to be silent or they would tip off those inside, holding the latest crop of young girls to be violently trained for their new lives. Reaper could move in absolute silence. If he said he was on the roof, he was.
Ice, Storm, make the climb but hold back until I give you the all clear.
Two more of his Torpedo Ink brothers began the laborious climb up the building to follow Reaper. Ice and his twin brother Storm moved rapidly to get into position. Once Reaper took out the guards, they would use the roof to gain entrance into the rooms below.
Ice had tattoos of three tears on his face. He hadn’t cried since he was three years old and the hideous instructors had taken him, kicking and screaming from Viktor. He’d come back silent and bloody, his eyes wide with shock and his mind traumatized. He could bring down the temperature in a room fast, or heat it up at the same speed. Viktor suspected that something wild and uncontrolled in Storm had been let loose when the instructors had taken him, and now, when he was raging with the need for revenge, that wild broke loose and fed the outside storms.
Reaper was a wraith coming up behind the first guard. The enemy actually turned his head and looked right at Reaper with his night vision goggles. Viktor had his weapon out and aimed, only just stopping himself from pulling the trigger when the guard looked away. How did Reaper do that? He didn’t talk much so it was impossible to understand how he could get away with the things he did.
Viktor’s silently cursed in his native language, wishing he could take back the orders he’d given that morning. Everyone had voted, as they always did, but he should have pulled the plug when they knew it was a trap. It wasn’t that he thought Reaper would be carelessâ€”he was never careless. If anything he was sharper and more aware than ever. He just grew more remote and cold. Reaper couldn’t afford to get any colder.
Reaper stepped up behind the guard in plain sight of the other two, if only they turned their heads. One sound. One slip and it would be over. Viktor knew Reaper would never make a mistake. He’d always taken Viktor’s back. Always stood for his brothers and sisters. He was quiet about it, but he’d made his first kill to protect a younger boy who later had betrayed him. That had been the beginning of Reaper’s slow withdrawal from the others.
Now there were eighteen of them left. Reaper and Savage still protected them. Still killed for them, but they did so slightly set apart from the others. Viktor understood why it had to be that way, he just didn’t have to like it. Reaper and Savage always understood that if any other betrayal took place, they would have to be the one to kill. They couldn’t afford to hesitate, not if they wanted to keep the others safe.
Reaper killed by simply shoving his knife through the base of the enemy’s skull, severing the spinal cord. He caught the gun and the body and slowly lowered both to the roof of the building. Viktor couldn’t help but think it was a thing of beauty. Reaper killed with maximum efficiency and minimum fuss. He didn’t threaten. He didn’t posture. Men were afraid of him because he gave off a dangerous, don’t-fuck-with-me vibe. Most of the time he wasn’t even seen until he wanted to be seen. He stayed in the background at Viktor’s back until, like now, he went to work.
Viktor watched the other two guards carefully. Ice and Storm stayed on the wall, just at the top out of sight, waiting for Reaper’s all clear. Mechanic once you deal with the fan, you take the guard position. We need a clear path coming out. Nicolaos-Mechanic-Bolotan was Transporter’s older blood brother.
Absinthe and Savage, Mechanic, start your climb.
The three came up fast and joined him on the roof, staying low to keep the two remaining guards from spotting them.
Reaper was on the second guard, slowly lowering him to the rooftop. Still the last guard didn’t turn his head. Was Reaper able to will the guard to look in the other direction? If he could, he’d never told any of them of his ability. He moved like the wraith he was, a specter of death, rising up behind the third guard and performing the same ritual, slamming the knife deep into the base of the skull and severing the spinal cord.
Viktor cursed again as Reaper looked out over the rooftop and called a perfect mimicking cry of an owl missing prey. It was a sound heard at night, not often, but occasionally. The sound was chilling. Ominous. A perfect replica, and yet to Viktor it represented death. Reaper called in the team after he made his kills. He could mimic anything or anyone, just as his brother Savage could do.
The moment the last note died away, the two brothers, Ice and Storm, were over the thick wall and onto the roof with Reaper. Viktor was already in motion, moving fast, running from one roof to the other, Mechanic, Savage and Absinthe right with him. They gained the other roof, staying low to avoid being seen by the men hidden on the ground, waiting for just such a move against the shipment of young girls being brought in from around the country. Ohio. Arizona. California. He detested the Swords, detested even more having to wear their colors and ride side by side night and day with them.
Ice and Storm, crouching low, joined them just above the entry point. The large heavy-bladed fan rotated in fast cycles behind the heavy screen. On the other side of the fan was the same webbing of metal, a thick screen that had to come down before the men could enter the building.
Mechanic was already there, crouched beside the industrial fan, working on the problem. There was a reason he’d earned the name Mechanic and it wasn’t the custom bikes and cars he engineered and built. It was his ability to control any kind of metal or electronics. He had been a big part of their survival in the school and even more of a help as he’d learned to control and strengthen his talent.
Storm had one hand on his brother’s back as he waited for the huge fan to slow and then stop the rotation. They had to be fast in order to keep those below from knowing what was happening. To do that, the sound of the fan had to continue. Like a refrigerator running in the background, no one would notice the noise until it stopped. While Mechanic worked to slow and eventually stop the fan, Storm reproduced the sound and projected it throughout the building below them.
Viktor watched them working together flawlessly, something his brothers had done from the time most of them were young. That ability to seamlessly blend their talents had allowed them to survive the insanity they’d grown up in. The gifts each of them had always astonished him.
The fan slowed and finally stopped altogether. By that time, Ice already had the screen peeled back and Storm was through, Ice right behind him. He had to get the next screen down as quickly as possible while Mechanic kept the fan from moving. It wasn’t easy and the strain showed. Small beads of sweat trickled down his face, but he stayed locked in place while Ice and Storm dispensed with the second screen.
The other men went through fast, Viktor bringing up the rear, waiting to ensure Reaper, the last man made it through safely as well. Mechanic would stay behind and guard the roof, making certain they had a way to retreat if needed. The moment Viktor stepped into the long attic, behind him, the fan began rotating again.