Flight MX-717, Mexico to New York, 2018
Fortress reclined across the two seats in first class, sipping his double Highland Park 50-Year-Old scotch. He’d ordered it purely because he’d seen his ticket had been upgraded to unlimited beverages and the price tag per glass was $700 a shot. He opened the DVD player and pushed play. An image of a young man with blonde hair and thick black glasses appeared on the screen.
Fortress stared at the screen for a moment before it clicked that it wasn’t a recording but an actual live feed. “Oh hello.”
“I’m very glad you’ve accepted the offer to…”
“Buddy, at the moment I’m in for the four million only. Seven minutes remember?”
He smiled. “I recall what I said. What do you wish to know?”
“Everything and don’t spare details.”
“I work for Mr Re…”
“Who are you?” Fortress interrupted.
“My name is Flail.”
Fortress sniggered. “Okay…”
“Considering you’re called Fortress,” he retorted. “I represent Mr Rapeak, who is currently being detained by the US government.”
“What did he do?” Fortress asked as he raised his glass for a refill.
“He was supplying weapons to Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a in the Somali Civil War, which under US law is a crime.”
“Nasty business that conflict,” Fortress remarked as he watched the stewardess pour his drink. “So, how’d he get caught?”
“CIA tracked him to India and set up a deal with the Adivasi Cobra Force rebel group. Mr Rapeak went to the meeting and…”
“I hope you don’t want me to free him from prison or anything? Because he got caught fair and square for being stupid.” Fortress said.
Flail grit his teeth. “He’s not stupid!”
“Anyone who gets caught by the CIA in a foreign country IS stupid!” Fortress laughed. “They think they’re all secretive and clever but they’re as subtle and sneaky as a group of sugar infused boy scouts. Besides they’re all white, so if your boss got caught by white guys in India, he’s stupid!”
Flail pushed his glasses up. “He’s in danger and needs protection, which is where you come in.”
“This seems very much like the plot of that terrible Schwallone series,” Fortress mused. “Y’know him and Stalzenegger team up undercover in prison.”
“This isn’t a movie!” Flail barked. “His life is in danger! An assassin named Kard has been hired to kill him.”
“Okay, that’s about five minutes,” Fortress said. “I’m going to leave the final two minutes when I meet Mr Rapeak on the ground at…where?”
“Okay,” Fortress closed the player. “Oh stewardess! Could I please get another drink? And can I get the Wifi password please.”
As the limousine head towards Ryker’s Island, Fortress looked at all the information he’d been able to gather about Flail, Mr Rapeak, and his incarceration and it all checked out. This was potentially the easiest money he’d ever made for the smallest amount of work. He was also waiting on a reply about Kard from his friends who did that line of work.
“Shall I wait?” the driver asked.
“You better!” Fortress replied. “This won’t take long.”
Fortress stood spread eagle as two guards patted him down. Then they ran a scanner over him from head to toe. “Clear!”
Fortress walked to the desk clerk. “Hi George.”
The portly man, who looked remarkably like Steinfeld actor Alexander Jason, grimaced at the comment. “Who you here to see?”
“Charles Rapeak please.”
The guard visibly shook. “What?”
“Charles Rapeak. I’m here to see him.”
Fortress watched the guard who tried to be subtle as he reached under the desk to press something. Gently he reached out with his telepathy to be greeted with white noise.
“This way,” a female guard said as she appeared behind him. Fortress studied the guard curiously as he followed the woman to the visitor’s entrance. They were buzzed in and walked down a short corridor to another door and let into a large common room.
“So, Charles Rapeak huh?” she said.
“Yeah…” Fortress telepathically reached out again only to be greeted with white noise. “What’s an arms dealer doing in Ryker’s?”
She looked at him. “Arms dealer? I think that’s the one thing that bastard hasn’t done.”
A shrill blast of a siren sounded and the six guards in the room escorted the prisoners and their visitors out. Fortress looked around. “What is going on?”
“Your visitor is arriving,” she said.
Fortress watched her hand drift to her weapon. The common room door opened and in came nine heavily armoured guards with full body riot shields and stun batons. Then a guard in power armour. Then entered two guards with long metal poles attached to a hooded prisoner who they guided towards Fortress. The poles were detached, and the bag removed. Sitting before the mercenary was Keeper, THE most dangerous and active villain on the planet.
“Oh no…” Fortress stood up. His phone beeped.
“Oh yes!” The female guard hissed.
“Who are you?” Keeper demanded angrily as he folded his arms.
To be continued...