Chapter 9

"Those Americans are crazy," Timofei Sokolov muttered to his colleague. "Catching Gregorio Kostas. This whole thing is crazy."

"You know the crazy Americans understand every word you say?" Benji commented in perfect Russian from his spot two meters away.

The man Sokolov had been talking to let out a dry laugh with a puff of smoke. "At least so far it's quiet," he said. "And we get paid the night shift and overtime."

"I think the quiet part is about to change," Brandt put in and stood up straight.

Two of the special forces men Sidorov had brought along were headed for them from further inside the container terminal, carrying a third person between them, who was kicking wildly, his feet inches above the ground. "Just picked him up over there," one of the men said to Brandt, motioning back at where they had just come from. "Think he's one of Kostas' gang?"

"I am not!" the man in the middle protested loudly.

Benji took a closer look. "He's not," he finally said. "Let him down."

The two officers let go and the young man stumbled forward as his feet hit the ground. He looked from Benji to Brandt and back. "You're friends of Sergey?" he asked, uncertain.

"Yes," Benji replied. "Andrey, right?"

The young Russian nodded, clearly agitated. "You have to come," he said. "Quickly."

"Slow down," Brandt interrupted, trying to sound calm. "What's going on?"

"The Greek, he's got Sergey," Andrey explained. "They've got him tied up, I saw it. And a woman. I don't know what they want from him. I couldn't hear what they were talking."

Benji bit his lip and suppressed a curse. "Did anyone see you?"

"No," Andrey answered.

"Can you lead us there?" Brandt asked.

The young man nodded.

"Luther, did you get that?"

"Every word," the other agent replied, clearly as unhappy as Brandt felt.

"Do you have a lock on the transmitter?" Brandt asked on.

"I'd have told you if I had," Luther answered dryly.

Brandt sighed. If things would be going according to plan, this would have been an easy night. But of course they didn't. When did they ever, especially when Ethan was involved?

"Well, we can't just sit around here waiting, can we?" Benji asked.

"If you go in there now and Kostas isn't there, our plan goes to shit," Luther put in.

"If Kostas found out we're onto him, our plan's already shit," Brandt stated dryly. "I say we move now."

"I'm in," Benji agreed instantly.

"Fine with me," Luther added. "Since there's not a hell lot I can do from here now, I'll come join you. But don't wait for me."

"Alright," Brandt acknowledged. Then he motioned to the Russian agents before he turned to Andrey. "OK, show us."

\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

"Brave idiot," Kostas sighed, watching the motionless, hunched down figure that was Ethan Hunt. Then he nodded at the small, gray-haired man. "Prepare the girl for another round."

The woman hardly reacted, when he injected the liquid, but her gaze was steady now, fixed on Kostas. The Greek was amazed that it could still project anger, even hatred and defiance.

"Now, Agent... What was it again?" he asked, and had to laugh, when she responded with a pained snarl. He didn't get to ask another question though, because one of his lackeys approached him from the side.

"Problem, boss," the man said, before he could tell him off. "Police locked down the harbor. Got us surrounded, closing in fast."

Kostas jumped up with a curse. "Get rid of them. Him first," he ordered, motioning at the agents. But when one of his guards immediately took aim, he slapped the gun out of the man's hand. "Not here, idiot. In the river. No traces."

Other men lowered their firearms, but Kostas no longer paid attention. He grabbed the gray-haired man by the wrist, who dropped his leather case in the hurry. It hit the floor with the sound of shattering glass, but the man was pulled on mercilessly.

"No time for that," Kostas said harshly. "We have to go."

\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

"There, that's it," Andrey said, pointing at a container around 100 meters down the road. A yellow shine streamed out through the open door.

"Alright, good job," said the American who sounded different when he spoke English. "Now go back."

Andrey wanted to object, but the older man cut him off, before he could. "Go home," he said in the same authoritative tone Sergey had used earlier. "And stay there."

This time the young Russian would do what he was told. He nodded and ran off into the darkness.

Benji looked after him for a moment, then turned to Brandt. The other agent confirmed their unspoken agreement with a nod and together they moved down the row of containers, quickly and efficiently, checking every corridor for potential threats. They were only one row away from the open door, when two tall figures emerged, dragging a third, smaller one.

Neither of them bothered to shout a warning. Two gunshots cracked like one, echoing off the containers. Both targets fell simultaneously, dragging their cargo with them.

Benji darted forward immediately, while Brandt hung back, securing the surrounding area. "Ethan?" he called, but received no response. And the figure sitting limply against the door-frame wasn't Ethan.

The woman didn't even look up when Benji approached, but pointed her bound hands away from where he had come from with a sense of urgency. Looking that way, he could just make out someone disappearing behind a corner. Indecisively he looked down at her and back, when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Go," Brandt said behind him. "I've got this."

Benji nodded his thanks and ran off to where he had seen the shadow disappear.

\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

Pain. There was nothing but pain.

And if there was, Ethan couldn't tell. The pain blocked out anything outside, and anything inside. It was everywhere. And everything.

Until it slowly started to ease. Slowly, but continually, a soothing feeling, like ice on an injured foot, or balm on a burn.

And with the pain receding, awareness returned, inactively at first, subconsciously. Ethan realized he was no longer sitting down. And he was moving, but not through anything he did. His own body still felt too far away for him to make it do anything.

It took him a little to realize he could hear, too, because compared to before it was now very silent. There was only a strange, rumbling white noise, coming from... below?

Ethan reflexively opened his eyes and for a moment wondered, if he actually had, for all he could see was blackness. Then suddenly feeling was forced back into his body by a rush of cold water.