Spectre offered him words he didn't hear, his attention lingering within the room with Odin, the words they had spoken, the commitments he had made, the weight of their consequence a deep weight upon his shoulder. His life was in his hands, his own blood dripping through his fingers, for the first time he was having doubts about his team, about the resolution and ability of those around him and he was throwing himself onto the fire.
2 he barely knew, a girl with no balls and a weak stomach and a man with an irritating grin and a kind heart his safety net from grasping hungry flames. Flames he could not be allowed to linger in, if Hale got his hands on Thor, Thor knew he would know pain, Thor knew it would be a battle amongst wills, in bodily strength he could tear Hale limb from limb, but in mind, they were one and the same, ruthless, hateful devoid of compassion or love.
Perhaps Hale was even more ruthless, deceit and treachery allowing him to cross lines Thor could not even see.
Death would be a mercy over life in such clutches.
He went to Loki first, the cyber tech hunched over his equipment muttering and hissing as he tapped with feverish intensity. He watched him, embracing the rythmic clicking of keys, the oneness within the silence. He did not understand the cybertech, the two living in different worlds, Loki's very existence as foreign as the scroll of zero's and ones flashing across the screen an endless waterfall of data that he could not begin to comprehend.
He felt his eyebrow raised even as he shock his head to rid himself of the hypnotic clicking, to stir himself from the scrawling numbers before his eyes.
Fuck it... Loki could keep clicking, he'd keep stabbing.
It was seconds before he realised the frantic fingers had come to a halt, a moment of pause or a natural stopping point giving Thor his moment to speak.
"I want everything you can find on the Escobar family, past, present and future and I want it an hour ago.... capiche?"
He did not wait to see if Loki acknowledged his order, he expected, Loki rarely failed to deliver.
Close to the van he checked his gear, hands running over foreign features, the feel of his distended brow of wild untamed hair upon his chin, unnerving, as if he had been maimed. His eyes found the floor with a furrowed brown even as a hand clasped him on the shoulder, his impulse reaction stalled as he felt it rest there longer than a simple friendly gesture. The pressure of the fingers were familiar, a quick turn of his head took Odin into full profile. His stance, his eyes, a simple twist at the corner of his lips conveying everything that need to be said, the bond of friendship, the confidence of two soldiers, the hope they would live to clasp shoulders again
"Good hunting old friend. We will have your back if things get sticky."
An eyebrow raised as he looked at the Colonel and his voice half laughed even as he dropped his voice to a mutter, the words of Odin and Odin alone
"If things get" the word caused his own lips to twitch, his voice rye
"sticky, are you prepared to do what needs to be done"
He met his friends gaze
"you know you can't let hale take me"
Steel, softened by a hint of emotion gleamed in Odin's eyes, resigning himself to a simple jerking nod, the motion forced by duty through pain. It was met by granite, emotionless and impregnable
"good, make spectre do it."
Odin features twitched once more in a small knowing smile, even as Thor's grin grew sadistically in an impish leer
"what... i want it to be clean"
"Whats the plan Thor when we arrive, do you want me to place explosives on the enemy vehicles if possible, in case we need to make a get away?"
Buck's voice split the silence, breaking his attention from the tablet Loki, he had given him, the information solid and vital to his survival. Cars had passed him, whole groups of cartel foot soldiers surrounding their charges, the ease with which they strode through the doors making his eyebrow raise.
Hale's security was that lax, or so sophisticated it could be that unobtrusive?
"There will be no quick get away, if something goes wrong, I will be taken or killed. You follow your orders, lock the building down, no one..."
One eye flickered up to glare at the smiling face across from him "..and I mean no one leaves alive"
The smile never wavered even as he looked back out the window eyes narrowing as the fixed upon the doorway, his mind already readying for a mental joust with Hale, some task, some trick...
"I see you and Odin believe that the chaos between the ACS and the Cartels that your death can bring is more important than your life. Im inclined to disagree, guess thats why im not the boss"
Did the fucker ever stop smiling? Did he take anything seriously, or did something in his head make him see the best in this fucked up shit hole of a country. Thor stared resolutely out the window even as the cheery voice perked up once more
"Explosives on the building then, and if there is some sewer tunnels, some nice explosive marbles to close them off if necessary. You want a marble to tail you inside Thor?"
The voice was grating, insistent and eager, dragging his attention away from the information before him, like a willful puppy tugging at a shirt. Slowly he stored the tablet away in the glove compartment, the features before him leaving him half irritated, half tired.
"You can shove marbles up Hale's arse for all i care, but if one gets spotted I swear to every deity that may or may not exist I will make you regret the day your parents condom broke"
Thor threw himself back in his seat closing his eyes. Was his life important too him... compared to this, compared to the endgame, to the last stages of a war he had been fighting since he had been a boy.
"I've been fighting this war for longer than I can remember, I've seen men that make us both combined look like girls skipping through a meadow. They died for what they believed in, wouldn't you?"
"I would sir."
For the first time he seemed sad, something other than mindless optimism in his voice, a slither of dissapointment in the gruff tones
"And im sad to think that you would need to ask that question. I grew up in ACS territory, and was rescued by a squad much like ours. Its just that I know you have done more good for the civilian people in any territory with a knife, than I could ever do with a endless supply of explosives, that is why I know our cause will suffer if you were to die, others will try and walk your shoes, and some will succeed to some degree, but you and Odin are the heart and soul of the valkyries. Im just the friendly pad on the shoulder guy."
Thor opened his mouth to speak but Buck over rode him, the words seeming to spill out
"And back to mission, im still trying to remember last time when one of my marbles was spotted before they were meant to be spotted, and on the subject of me regretting my parents broken condem, that have happened several time during drills, so nothing new there."
Thor felt himself laugh, an odd exasperated chuckle escaping from between his lips
"Nothing gets you down does it Buck. I must be fucking loosing it"
He shook his head even as he looked at him in earnest, the reasons for his distrust of Buck spilling over his lips, though there was no anger in his voice just tiredness, he was weary of fighting, weary of hating...
"Your a good man, but good men don't make good soldiers. Good men won't shoot the child with a gun in his hands, good men, won't leave the woman drowning in the water"
He could see the child, no more than 12 or 13 a rifle too big for him in trembling fingers , desperately swinging around to face the behemoth, caked in blood that had burst into the room. A quick evaluation suggested he couldn't have controlled the recoil let alone pull the trigger. He never got a chance before his brain were spattered across the floor. The woman.... oh fuck... oh sweet mother her face as it dissapeared under the surface the bubbles of her scream choked from her throat, as he held it down and forced it deeper. Her hands scratching at his as she struggled, her tears adding to the icy depths of her own demise.
"I have and I would again. My knife works for hate... its motives might coincide with good, but that is not what drives it into flesh"
Thor looked back up, his eyes and face returning from the past to the hear and now, to business, to his commands, to his orders. It didn't really matter.... he would probably die today, his eyes caught a glimpse of features he barely recognised, yet still the numbness settled over him.
"Do what you think is right, if you want to marble the cars, marble the cars, you want to put one in with me, put one in with me. Just know, the price"
Buck's eyes narrowed, perhaps not truly comprehending the threat as he drew his finger across his throat. It wasn't his own life he was risking, it was Thor's, and people that endangered Thor ended up... well perhaps it was a threat too, if Buck fucked up and Thor survived, it wouldn't take a Loki to guess how many strips Thor would take from his merry hide.
"Just promise me one thing Sir. No matter how im killed, tell my wife and kids I made you laugh."
Words crept unbidden, fears that never surfaced washed ashore on the tides of his own mortality
"And if i die, don't let odin try to avenge me"
With a shake of his head Thor was back in the world, turning to Buck with a casual smile
"your crowning achievement huh?"
the smile grew yet it did not annoy him, it comforted him.
"Orders from the highest place sir. So Thor when is it time for us to start the show?"
He checked the clock on the dash board, eyes moving to the parking lot
"We'll give it 5, if nothing goes wrong, we tail the acs to the nearest check point and go to town. You've got the lead then, newbies and me, you point we shoot. Your the demolition expert, but I want it spectacular."
Buck's smile took on its own leering quality, the destructive half of him coming to the fore.
"Ill make it say boom Thor, and it will big and huge and very Cartel like. If I make it too fancy they will know it wasn't cartel business."
Thor's eyes were still upon the parking lot, his voice distracted as he settled his own mind for the part he was about to play, for his stage.
"Good, just make sure there is a video camera left, we're putting on a show, no good if no one sees it"
"What I wouldn't give for a old fashioned RPG launcher. It would work wonders in this scenario."
Thor shrugged still staring out the window, even as his mind settled and he felt confidence flow, a flood of endorphin's pushing him forward. He could do this.
"Check the cars when we arrive, who knows what surprises they have in there"
"Check the cars, if surprising ill change the surprise around on our opposition. You just give the order when you wan't to move out Thor."
He rode the high, the possibility of his own survival embraced the confidence his knowledge his ability his strength gave him ,clicking his fingers as he snarled
"I'm tired of waiting lets go"
Thor clasped a hand on Buck's shoulder, a gesture he immediately regretted even as he pulled his hand away.
"Good hunting" he growled
"You too sir"
The vehicles were empty, the night still the engines of the cars lifeless, no shadows moving in their interior Thor moved like a cat, watching every door every corner, every flickering shadow as he strode amongst the cars.
It appeared each party had chosen to make their appearance with their full entourage, either for protection or like a peacock to show their feathers. He sped up the pace, a hint of eagerness in his stride, self belief flowing through his veins, they were being lax, the cartel's each of them, lured by Hale, intrigued by his openhanded gesture... perhaps they knew more than he.
Perhaps he was walking into a trap.
At the doorway he paused, hand reaching for the weaponry strapped to his thigh, pausing for a second, finger gently stroking his chin suppressing the urge to kick the door open and burst inside. A deep breath and he embraced the role, his stride, lengthening, shoulders relaxed with an arrogant slouch as his features scrunched into a haughty sneer.
Even as he slid the door shut he found himself at the rear of a semi circle of 5 tables each equidistant from a 6th at their head. Each of the 5 was flanked by muscle, weaponry slung across rippling backs, tatoos stretched across bulging biceps yet it was the figure head of each table that jumped out to him... famous names kin or the kin of kin sat around this table.... a sign of the importance placed upon this meet. They had been right to crash it... this sort of thing could not stand.
He strode forward, body seeming to ooze across the floor with a languid deadly face, eyes darting to see Gutierrez sat next to Mendoza, to Reyes, to... his heart skipped a beat.
To Castelan, blood of his blood lingered inches from his, spawn of those that had shot down his mother in cold blood, hunted his father... destroyed the life that he could have lived and set him upon this path.
The epicenter of his hatred, the source of his rage sat before him. He could draw his pistol before any could think of reaching for theirs, have the Castelan's dead before any reached theirs, have the Mendoza's dead, as their weapons came to bear.... be amongst the Reyes even as their bullets pierced his flesh
Rage, vengeance, the words of his father, the hate he had poured into his soul, the longing to exterminate and eradicate, to cleanse the world of the filth that sat before him. He was like a drowning man to an outstretched hand, a starving man to food every fiber of his being fighting against his natural impulse.
This was bigger than him.... even as he paused on the threshold.... they would be dead... Odin would see to that. The stride returned yet they eyes within those foreign features burned with unmistakable malice. The head table caught his eyes, an empty chair flanked by two large figures, suited, weaponry concealed, features still and emotionless, though he could feel their eyes upon him.
He took his seat even as a low hiss met his ears, the scathing tones of Pablo Alvarez, cousin to the head of the Gutierrez family, an insult for his Escobar border brother, a token of their bloody history, ground won and lost on either side... every inch seeped in blood.
"Typical Escobar arrogance"
The low hiss made Thor smile, even as he seated himself alone at his table relaxed, relieved that none had penetrated his ruse, their eyes only for the empty table at their head, punctuated by low hisses to the guards at their side.
Seconds turned to minutes, minutes dragging on yet no one arrived, the test of their conviction becoming an insult, restless movement suddenly punctuated by a thump as Carminda, favored daughter of the Reyes family slammed her hand on her table. The insult burning deep in her beautiful eyes, unwise to keep the daughter of a father waiting, let alone with such tempestuous emotions.
"Enough, I am tired of waiting," her accent thick, her temper flaring. "Get to the point or I am leaving!"
Their was a flurry of nods and a grumbling grunt of ascent, figures starting to stand and Thor let out a loud yawn, feet suddenly up upon the table with a loud thud as he stretched settling deeper in his chair, the challenge clear, the heads turning towards him causing the suits at the front to shift eyes alert and wary.
A harsh curse as Pablo stood, chair skittering away as he made for the door, his progress halted by the slam of another door which sent hands skittering to their weapons. The sudden edgy silence punctuated by Thor's mocking laughter. Flushed figures returned to their tables even as they took in the figure of a thin man, dark black suit in stark contrast to the pale almost translucent quality of his skin.
A nasal grating voice rose over the clip of his shoes, a slight simper in his tone
"Ladies and gentlemen. I apologize for the delay."
A cellphone in his hand slipped into his pocket and Thor's eyes skittered round the room searching for the camera, where the fuck was Hale, where were his eyes... where
"But I had urgent business that required my attention."
Thor let out a snarl
"More important than the heads of 4 of the biggest families. Hale's cock must taste good huh"
A guffaw from the Gutierrez to his right, a low grunt from the Castelan table... Demario, his second cousin turning his derision into scathing insight
"Bullshit. You wanted to make us wait, get us at each others throats, making it easier for you to control the negotations."
A dismissive wave to the two at his back
"Sit. Let this swine say his piece."
He seemed unrattled yet Thor felt the man's eyes narrow, the slightest glance in his direction and he felt himself sit up straighter in his seat, the motion peaking his interest, a plan of action forming on instinct in his mind
"I am Gabriel Enright, Administrative associate to Mr. Hale."
He paused letting the suspense build
"I have been sent to make you an offer."
Thor pushed on, insistant his voice loud and sneering nagging at the man before him
"A secretary, Hale's sent a fucking secretary" his words followed by a nagging grunt from Pablo
"This is insulting. We were promised a meeting with Hale himself."
Carminda's voice was shrill filled with irate passion "I refuse to meet with trash. You have no authority to offer us anything. A desk clerk, The Reyes family will not suffer this slight."
"Sweet mother, if muscle a and muscle b didnt have such shiny shoes, I'd drain your fucking corpse"
He pushed on, his voice becoming the rallying point for the cartels, though the Mendoza's insistant silence caused his to glance Estafan Mendoza, the grandson of the head, his lips pursed his features calm, yet his eyes burned with vivid intensity.
The ACS rep was glaring at him, the muscle at his flanks suddenly fixing upon him with true intensity and Thor felt a hint of triumph allowing himself to unleash a learing smile as Enright continued his voice a little harassed as he implored the other cartels
"Please, I assure you, that I speak with the full authority of Mr. Hale and his division of the ACS."
Eyes darkening he rounded on Thor
"Mr. Ruiz, I would caution you not to test my patience. The arrangement that Mr. Hale proposes is one that is mutually beneficial."
The smile widened, eyes locking with Enright, the stare down broken as a flick of Thor's wrist brought a long knife into his hand and he begun to trim idly at his finger nails prompting the smallest confident smile from the body guard nearest too him.
I'll kill him first the cocky little prick... the anger flashed through him yet his demeanour never wavored an idle flick of his wrist as he grunted
"well unless your going to bring me coffee we may as well hear the offer"
Demario echoed him
"Get to it then. Makes us an offer, so I can tell you to shove it up your ass."
Silence descended and Enright continued
"We find ourselves, and by that I mean the American Confederate States, locked in a stalemate with a resistance movement that will not seem to die. I know that your business has also been effected by the cockroaches of the North American Freedom Initiative."
A flurry of nods around the tables, and Thor listened intently, his own nod the least interested, his knife still whittling slowly at his nails.
"Despite the current administration of this government, and its assertation that we are close to rooting out the malcontents, we are in fact no closer to that objective. The policies of the current regime hamstringing our efforts."
A malicious smile will flit over his thin face, his words tinged with deceitful pleasure
"Mr. Hale has decided that it is time for him to act, without the permission of the President. To eliminate the resistance once and for all and to make some business partners in the process."
Estefan spoke for the first time, his voice dismissive
"Pah, NAFI, their efforts are pointless. Men and drugs can be replaced, why should I recommend to my Grandfather that we work alongside self-righteous scum like you."
Enright was regaining confidence "Because we want to pay you, a lot of money to do so."
The words hung through the air, all eyes fixed upon Enright
" What we propose, is you and your families, providing us with 200 foot soldiers a piece, fully armed and ready to fight. Alongside the organized military branch of the ACS, that will be too many soldiers for the NAFI to handle."
Carminda stared at him, open scorn in her smile, before she starts to laugh, a high crystaline sound that is infectious. "Why should we do that. NAFI threatens your existence more than ours. How do we know that you are not just trying to deplete our manpower?'
Thor's own mouth opened, the true danger of this situation stirring in his mind yet he stopped himself, mouth closing, as he stared into his lap.... the true menace of Hale suddenly outlayed before him. The man was brilliant, as brilliant as Odin and as ruthless as Thor....
With the facts outlayed before him he could see the path he would choose as clear as day... yet to think of it... that was true genius.
Take the men, destroy Nafi.... fill them with those drugs.... return them to the Cartel's and destroy them from the inside... the weakened Cartel's numbers depleted would be swept before the organised might of ACS army.
It was beautiful...
Scornful laughter surround him, the proposal ridiculous, yet the low voice of the Gutierrez silencing the crowd
"What would we get in return?"
Enright smiled, the smile of a snake as it pointed to the apple, a smile that chilled his soul
"$500 million dollars and the rights to peddle your merchandise, in regulated quantity of course, within ACS territory."
Their was silence... stunned silence... broken by Thor's sly smirk
"you said soldiers could always be replaced"
He turned, pushing forward, desperate to gain conformation of Hale's plan, a hint that there was not further devious brilliance within that man's mind
"do the remaining soldiers come back to us once nafi are done or do you take them"
"Keen ensight Rudolfo," Enright will say, his eyes boring deep into him, a twitch at the corner of his eye the only betrayal of the anger burning through his heart.
The other reps, the luster of greed falling from their expressions, turning to Enright keenly interested in his answer.
"Mr. Hale is willing to negotiate those terms. But as of now, yes they would be returned to your control."
The barest hint of reluctance in his tone, he doesn't want them to go back ... he pushed on certain he must be mistaken
"And would they be subject to any of your...." he let the word linger "products,"
"while they fight with you?"
Enright pushed onwards his answer making Thor's eyes narrow
"No, that has been expressly forbidden by Mr. Hale."
He must be wrong, Hale wanted to keep them, but why, the ACS were far better than any cartel rifraf, even trained and organised... to keep them from the drugs.... an army of a thousand... uncontrolled... but why?
"That is the offer in its entirety." Enright concluded,
"I am to give you 4 days time to supply your answer to Mr. Hale. Jordan if you please."
The guard he was going to murder slid a case from the table and placed a chunky mobile phone on each table
"You need only press and hold the number 1. That will connect you directly to Mr. Hale. Unless there is anything further, I leave you to your decision.""
He seemed eager to leave... rattled, his sentence barely finished before they moved towards the door, leaving the bowed heads of the cartel representatives in hissed consultation.
Without a sound Thor slipped from the room and back towards the car at a brisk walk, fueled by the single question
Odin would know, but there was no time... no point risking their operation... especially considering its importance for a second opinion when they had the opportunity to crush it once and for all.
Sliding into his seat he snatched a com bead from Buck and pressed it into his ear, hand grasping under his chair, hand sliding over his rifle for his shotgun.
With a savage frustrated snarl he racked it back as he opened the com link to Odin
kudos to lillian thorne for the awesome sig