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Vanquish the xander king.., p.12

Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2), page 12

 

Vanquish (The Xander King Series Book 2)
 


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  “Didn’t quite make it out of here in time huh, bitch?” Kyle’s face was as red as Zhanna’s hair.

  Zhanna’s demeanor did not change.

  “I’ll let that slide, because I realize how me not being able to help you at Xander’s villa must have looked.”

  “Must have looked?” Kyle was going nuclear. “Bitch you set us up!” He pulled her off the wall and then immediately slammed her back up against it.

  Kyle was so inside his own rage that he wasn’t prepared for it when Zhanna snaked her left leg around Kyle’s right leg and pushed abruptly with her upper body, sweeping him off his feet, landing him on his back and her on top of him. Instinct, and Xander’s hours of jujitsu lessons kicked in. He immediately bucked his hips and rolled over on top of her. She wrapped her legs around him, in full guard, and held him in place.

  “Listen to me! Stop! I did not set you up,” she screamed.

  Kyle broke her arm grip and postured up. He wanted to hit her but at that moment, he saw the same thing in her eyes that Xander said he had seen. Genuine concern. He stopped his fist mid downswing and the two of them glared at each other, their bodies heaving for air.

  “Then, where the fuck were you?”

  “Get off of me and I’ll explain.”

  Jack came over to Kyle and coaxed him off of her.

  “Zhanna, what the hell happened back there?”

  “Jack, you know I would never abandon fight.”

  “Well, I didn’t think so, but Xander said he saw you escape out the window. I said that wasn’t like you, but it sure wasn’t a solid argument.”

  “Xander must not have seen me fall.”

  “You fell?” Kyle asked. “From the window?”

  “Sort of. I was attempting to get around behind Pavlovich’s men, but I didn’t see the man watching the window.”

  Zhanna looked down at her leg. It was wrapped in a blood soaked bandage at the calf.

  “The bullet knocked me off balance and I fell into bushes below window. I hit my head, and when I woke, everyone was gone. They must have thought I was dead. I did not know where else to go, but I knew if Xander survived, he would eventually have to come here for plane. Is he on his way? Is he all right?”

  Worry washed over Kyle’s face. “We aren’t sure. He and Sam were taken by Pavlovich.”

  “Shit. I am sorry Kyle. This is no good. But if we hurry, we might have chance. My father will want proof of Xander’s death. That way he will not have to ever be paranoid about him again. Pavlovich will do everything he can to make sure Xander stays alive. It will be only way he get paid.”

  “I’m sorry I pushed you up against the wall.”

  “I am not sorry I put you on your ass.” She gave a sideways smile.

  Jack interrupted the apologies. “Well, now that the two of you are on the same page, we have work to do.”

  Zhanna said, “It is roughly five hour flight to Moscow. If we both reach out to our contacts, we can have good plan in place at landing. We will land at secluded airfield to stay under radar. Father will have eyes on airports.”

  Kyle’s stomach took a nasty twist. Talks of foreign countries and secluded airfields hit too close to home. He still wasn’t anywhere near over what happened in Syria. And if Zhanna said something about a trusted ally coming along with them, he was going to have to object. The memory of pushing James’s dead body over the side of the boat, into the Mediterranean, after James turned on him was enough to never trust another ally again.

  “Wheels up in five.” Bob announced from the doors that lead out to the tarmac.

  Kyle nodded.

  Zhanna looked...disappointed?

  “Something wrong,” Kyle asked.

  “Not to hurt your feelings, but I expected more from your precious Xander.”

  Kyle’s face knotted up.

  “This coming from the supposed amazing KGB agent that took herself out of the gunfight in the first five minutes by falling out of a window?”

  “You have no idea what I am capable of, Kyle.”

  “And you could multiply whatever you are capable of by a hundred and still not catch up to Xander.”

  She could tell she had hit a nerve. “It’s just...I expected to be taking out Vitalii Dragov with Xander, not saving Xander from my father.”

  “Don’t worry about X, Zhanna. Whatever situation he is in, no matter how dire, he’ll turn it around. You’ll be lucky to witness your father’s death at all, cause Xander may have already finished him by the time we get there.”

  Tom Petty Would Be Proud

  Just about at the same time that Kyle, Jack, and Zhanna lifted off the runway in Florence, heading straight for their suicide mission in Moscow in Xander’s G650, Xander could swear he heard a jet engine of his own. Yep, that definitely sounded like an airplane. The problem he was having is that even though he knew his eyes were open, he couldn’t see a damn thing. He sure as hell could feel though. Every single muscle and bone in his highly tuned body gave off the feeling of being run through a meat grinder. Flipping and rolling car accidents at two-hundred miles an hour tend to have that effect on the soft tissue of a human. The floor under his ass where he sat, hunched forward, legs out in front of him, was hard like metal. Whatever aircraft he was in, it wasn’t a G650. Some sort of cargo plane by the sound of the engine. His arms were behind his back, and when he moved them, he heard, and felt chains weighing him down. That black blur, the last thing he saw before his Lamborghini was airborne, must have been Pavlovich. They had set Xander up. They knew about La Castellana. They knew Xander would flee there if pushed. The image of Zhanna’s boot sneaking out the window flashed in his mind. He knew he had been right to not trust her. She must have been gathering intel on him for months, and sure enough they walked right into all of this. Xander wondered what that meant for Jack. He’s the one that brought her in. Xander’s gut told him that Jack had been fooled too. Blinded by the need to make things right for the betrayal of Xander’s father. Now, here Xander is, chained to a plane, a bag over his head, on his way to be Vitalii Dragov’s latest victim. In the meantime, Xander knew he had sealed the fate of poor Melanie, and unfortunately, Sam.

  “Xander?” He heard a whisper come from his right.

  “S-Sam?”

  “Xander, are you all right? I saw the crash from the back of the delivery truck. I was certain you were dead.”

  “What, and miss out on all this fun?”

  “Lean your head to the right.”

  Xander did as Sam asked. He felt a tug at the top of his head and the next thing he saw was Sam with a mouthful of the bag that covered his face.

  “Jesus, did you have to pull out my hair too?” Xander smiled. Damn it was good to see Sam’s face. Alive. “How much trouble are we in?”

  “The worst kind. We are fifteen-thousand feet in the air and there are fifteen of them.” She moved her head in the direction of the men behind her.

  Xander was right, they were in a small cargo plane. Most likely one of BRT’s fleet, the same company as the delivery truck that started this mess. It was almost entirely empty except for the men seated in rows along both sides of the outer walls. There were a few weapons packed against the walls, and a couple of parachutes, but other than that, it was just the two of them and a bunch of Russian thugs.

  “Fifteen? That’s all? Cake walk.”

  “I’m afraid not this time, Xander.”

  “How long have we been in the air?”

  “Two hours, we have around three to go.”

  “Two hours? So, you have already figured a way out of here then.” Xander looked at his partner with unwavering confidence.

  “I have. But it’s risky.”

  “My favorite,” he smiled.

  “We both won’t be able to make it, but as long as one of us does, there is hope.”

  “I’ll follow your lead.”

  A shout came from one of the men. “Shut the fuck up back there!”

  Sam shifted around
to face him.

  “I have to use the ladies room.”

  “There is no ladies room. Go in panties.”

  “Come on, where is there for me to go? We are stuck in a plane for god’s sake.”

  One of Pavlovich’s cronies stood up from his seat and began to walk toward them. The sun cast rays through the windows and showed a smug, thick necked, and to Xander, ass-ugly Russian man walking their way. He had a parachute strapped to his back, and as Xander looked beyond him, he could see that all of the men did. They were prepared for anything it seemed.

  “You think I am going to fall for oldest trick in book, unchain you, so you can have chance at getting free? You think I am that stupid?”

  “No comment.” Xander spoke up.

  “Ah, I see superman is finally awake.”

  “It’s X-Man to you, needle dick.” Needle dick? What is this, middle school? The look on Sam’s face confirmed that apparently it was.

  “Big talk coming from little bitch who was so easy to catch.”

  “What, that whole car crash thing back there? All part of my plan.”

  “What is plan now, big talker?”

  “I was thinking about ordering a pizza, does Domino’s air deliver yet?”

  “So, death of you and pretty lady here is joke to you?”

  “Not as much of a joke as that stupid mustache you got there, Magnum, P.I.”

  Sam knew Xander was baiting the man. And though Xander didn’t know it, Sam had counted on this. The Russian stiffened and looked as if he was going to lunge at Xander, but he stopped short, but came right into Sam’s range. Sam snap-kicked the muscle-head in the groin and he doubled over. She followed that with a snap-kick to the forehead and he fell forward, flat on his face. Sam’s chains extended just enough to allow a powerful axe-kick levied directly down on the back of his head that put him out cold. Fortunately, the plane had hit some turbulence at that same moment, so it didn’t draw the attention of the others. Sam immediately pulled him toward her with her legs, turned around, and fished a set of keys out of the man’s pocket. Xander quickly turned his back to her and they lined up their hands.

  “See, piece of cake,” Xander added as she undid his shackles. “Now what?” He took the keys from her.

  “This was as far as I got.”

  Just as Xander was moving to undo her chains, they both heard a shout from the front of the plane as one of the men stood and pulled a gun.

  “Shit,” Sam grunted.

  He squeezed off a round and it ricocheted off the metal floor and managed to bore a whole in the back of the plane.

  Xander dropped the keys and moved the body of the unconscious Russian in front of him and Sam as a shield.

  “STOP!” A man yelled, from the front of the plane. “We are in plane. You can’t shoot gun you stupid fuck!”

  It was Pavlovich. When he noticed Xander was free of his chains he instinctively pulled his gun. Xander and Sam were in a real pinch. Sam was still chained. Xander had no weapon, and no protection. The only thing he had going for him was the fact that Dragov clearly wanted him alive, or he would already be dead.

  Big mistake.

  Maybe.

  That fact, coupled with how seriously dumb it would be to fire a gun in this plane gave Xander a chance. But, what the hell could he do?

  The unconscious Russian’s gun. Of course!

  As the men all stood and started to make their way to Xander, he reached for the Russian’s belt and pulled out a pistol and pointed it in their direction. They may be afraid to shoot in there, but Xander was not.

  “Hold it right there, boys.”

  Pavlovich looked to his left, and to his right. “What, you going to kill all of us?”

  He had a point. His gun only had a twelve-round clip, and besides, once he started shooting, he had nothing to hide behind in there, he would be a sitting duck, and so would Sam. All fourteen of the rest of the men were standing now. Their guns trained on Xander. The sound of all of their weapons clicked and clacked as they collectively locked and loaded.

  “Don’t be stupid, Xander.” He heard a Russian woman’s voice, but he couldn’t see her. He could hardly hear her over the roar of the plane’s engine, but there was really only one person it could be.

  Zhanna.

  Xander almost fell over in shock when it was Melanie that came out from behind the wall of gunmen.

  “Melanie?” Xander managed.

  “Melania,” she corrected him. Her demeanor was no longer the nerdy girl with the black framed glasses. Her ever-present smile was still there, but now, it looked far more sinister than sunshine. “Sam,” Xander glanced down at Sam, “you’re so fired.”

  “Get him restrained.” Melanie—Melania—ordered.

  “Kyle is going to be so disappointed in you.” Xander told her as he quickly searched the plane for a way out. Four of the men moved toward him. Time was running out. This was the only chance he was going to have to save himself, and Sam. If they got him chained once again, the two of them were dead. Barring a miracle Hail Mary from Jack and Kyle, of course. Xander’s noticing last night of that genuine quality in Zhanna may still have merit after all. More likely, however, she’s on this plane too, or somewhere in place just in case Dragov needs a plan B.

  Dragov is going to need a plan B.

  Just then, the cargo latch release button at the back, and far side of the plane caught Xander’s eye.

  “Xander, don’t do anything stupid.” Sam pleaded when she followed his eyes to the release button.

  “Who, me?” Xander shrugged.

  Xander shot the unlucky grunt in the front of the pack of four goons that were headed his way, directly in the forehead and immediately turned and shot the release button on the cargo hatch. The pressure in the cabin changed almost instantly. They were just above the safety zone for jumping, but Xander didn’t have a choice. The gunmen coming toward Xander dove to the floor for cover in anticipation of another shot. Instead, Xander grabbed the unconscious Russian and began to drag him backward toward the slowly opening hatch. The plane filled with gusts of cold air and as Xander brought the Russian up as a shield, the group of gunmen began to fire at him. Between the sound of the howling wind, and the blasts of guns, Xander could only hope that Sam could hear him when he promised he would be back for her. He figured she probably could since he heard Melanie—or Melania—or whatever the fuck her name really was—shout to take Xander alive. However, it was clear when Pavlovich stepped forward that he had made a decision otherwise. There was no time to undo the parachute from the Russian meat shield that Xander was carrying in front of himself. So, as bullets whizzed around him, he backed his way right off of the platform and the back of the plane quickly grew farther and farther away as he began free falling into the deep blue sky. Probably not what Tom Petty had in mind when he wrote the song. Xander had managed to wrap his arms and legs around the unconscious man and was holding on to him like a cat falling down the trunk of a tree. It wasn’t a second later that he saw Pavlovich and four other men dive out of the back of the cargo plane after him.

  A Thin Line Between Love and Hate

  “What the hell do you mean you just left?”

  Sarah was sure this time, she actually saw smoke coming out of Director Manning’s ears.

  “What the hell is going on over there, Sarah? You were supposed to be in London, then I find out—no thanks to Jack, cause he all of a sudden isn’t communicating—that you all were in Tuscany the entire time? Now you’re here? Needless to say you are gone if you don’t have an absolutely perfect explanation!”

  For the first time since her encounter with Xander in the bedroom of his Tuscan wonderland, she understood why he had been so paranoid of her. Just moments ago, on the way in to Manning’s office in Langley, Virginia, she was stopped by a sort of nerdy looking man just outside CIA headquarters. He identified himself as Marvin—you can call me Marv—Cameron. Which meant nothing to Sarah. Then he said he was friends with th
e late, Sean Thompson, which vaguely rang a bell, and finally he explained that he had been helping Xander King and Sam Harrison for a few years now. Though she still didn’t know the name, she was able to make the connection. Marvin—Marv, went on to explain to her that Xander was in some real trouble, but he couldn’t get a hold of him. Sarah didn’t let on how much she knew, but when Marv said he tracked her down because he was given a request to check into a few things by a man named Jack Bronson, who was currently with Xander, Sarah took a moment to catch her breath and let Marv have his say.

  “Why aren’t you with Xander in Tuscany?” Marv had asked her.

  Sarah was a little weary, but she took the time to explain that Xander had the impression that she was compromised. That is when Marv explained the conversation that he had with Jack, and that is when her world shifted on its axis. She hadn’t listened to the voicemail that Kyle left a couple of hours earlier. So she didn’t know that Xander and Sam had been taken. She was immediately infuriated with herself for leaving when Xander needed her most. She was even more distraught when Marv explained to her that he found out that Melanie, Xander’s trusted assistant, was actually a mole for Dragov, and the one that told Pavlovich where they were in Tuscany. Sarah felt horrible. Xander had reacted poorly, granted, but there really was a mole. He just got caught up and took it out on the wrong person.

  “I have to relay all of this to Manning, right now! Come with me!” She had told Marvin. That was right before he blew her mind again, forcing the world to re-shift its axis entirely.

  “Sarah,” Marv glared into Sarah’s eyes. “That, is the last thing you’re going to want to do. Manning is working for Dragov.”

  “No way.”

  “He knew all about Melanie.”

  “No way.”

  “And he knew all about the attacks that you helped save Xander from in the Virgin Islands, and at the hospital in San Diego.”

  “That—that’s just not possible. Manning is the one that put me in charge of watching Xander in the first place.”

 
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