May 29, 2012


With the sun diving from the sky, General Bertrand led Liam and Isadora to an unmarked black Ford SUV parked outside the network hub. A driver waited for them, but Bertrand said, “I'll drive. Take the day off, lad.”


“You heard me.” Bertrand pushed the driver aside and stepped into the Ford. Liam thought this strange, but could do nothing about it. Of the four present, he was easily in the lowest position. He had no idea what to make of General Bertrand. Part of him wanted to count the Welshman an ally, but Steelewood could never be trusted. Ever.

Liam and Isadora climbed into the back seats of the SUV and buckled their seat belts. Bertrand started the engine and hit the gas. Isadora said, “My son betrayed you too, Bertrand.”

“I know,” Bertrand replied. “He lied to me and expects me to follow him regardless. That's what has always been expected of me. We always, always trust our superiors and-” he sighed. “It's not the same this time though. Ms. Fleming, the way I see it is that you're still my superior.”

“Thank you, general.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I'll get to that,” Isadora said. She turned to Liam and said, “Liam, if we're going to stop Sergei, I'll need your help.”

“What do you need?”

“Sergei is a genius and a deadly weapon. He is a master of planning, killing, infiltrating. He is the perfect weapon. But that is his weakness. He's a weapon. Weapons need someone to pull the trigger, someone to aim. What Sergei does not know is that he is programmed for me to pull is trigger. I am his master and he works for me.”

“Doesn't seem to be the case now,” Liam said.

“Him developing this much of a mind of his own is surprising, yes, but he's bringing me back to Boston precisely because he needs me. Sergei has a subconscious need for my approval. That's why he didn't kill me when had the chance. He wants to bring me to Boston and convince me that he's right. He wants me to tell him that he's done a good job.”

“It sounds like he just wants a mother that loves him.”

“Liam, please. I know I haven't been that. This is my fault. I know it is.” She looked out the window and put her hand on her forehead. “And now I need to fix this. But I can't.”

“What do you mean you can't? Isadora, we need-”

“Liam, you can though. The only way to deal with this problem is for Sergei to die. He is too dangerous to be kept alive. He knows every last trick of manipulation, infiltration, and elimination. There is no one deadlier than Sergei. That's how he's got himself at the top of world right now. Now, we need to push him off, but I can't do it. I can't kill my own son. He really has that mother who loves him. I just-” she shook her emotion. “Liam, can I trust you?”

“Tell me your plan first.”

“There's a small chance I can talk Sergei out of this. I haven't much faith in being able to convince him that he's wrong, but I am going to try. Failing that, I need you to come to Boston and finish the job for me. I need you come in and kill Sergei.”

“Whoa, whoa, wait, what?” Liam scoffed. “Look, that's a nice idea, but Boston's a fortress! Steelewood's biggest garrison is in Boston. We've got a ship of, what, sixty people? There's got to be thousands of-”

“Twelve thousand,” Isadora said. “There are twelve-thousand and sixty-three Steelewood ground troops in Boston. You're right, you're no match.”

“So, what, why'd you even-?”

“Because, Liam, there's a way. There always is.”

“I'm listening.”

“I will give you my personal access codes, maps of facilities, troop placements- everything. There are things not even Sergei knows about that I can give you. You only have to get to headquarters.”

“But that's the hard part!”

“I know, but Liam, you know what's at stake. You know you have to do this. You know you can find a way. I know I can count on you.”

Liam sighed, “Look, I'm starting to think we need to just back out of this and let things be. We've paid a massive price for all the shit going down on your end. This isn't our fight.”

“Liam, it is absolutely unfair that I say this, but that is not what your father would do. Your father would-”

“No, you're wrong. My father had his crew's best interests at heart at all times, he wouldn't throw their lives away like this.”

“Liam, yes, he did, but your father also did the right thing.”

“Yeah, he did, but think about this from where I'm standing, Isadora. You said Sergei was a master of manipulation, well, so are you, right? So, how do I know you aren't just trying to play me for some kind of power trip? You've got a lot to gain by getting rid of Sergei. It puts you right back at the top of the world. How do I know this isn't about that?”

“You're right. You can't trust me. Don't,” Isadora sighed. “But, Liam, were I trying to manipulate you right, you can't say I'm doing a very good job, can you?”

Liam smiled thinly. “No, no I can't. Alright, we'll help you.”

“Thank you,” Isadora said. “When we get to the airport, I'll find a notebook or something and write down everything you need. I'll fly to Boston immediately, then I need you to get back aboard the Holdsworth and head straight there.”


“General Bertrand,” Isadora said turning back to the aging driver. “You're very important to this plan.”

“What do you need me to do?”

“I need you stay on Sergei's side.”

“I'm sorry?”

“He needs to believe his plan is going well. What needs to happen is for the Holdsworth to escape, not for it to be let go. You'll report to Sergei as if you truly followed him. Can you do that?”
“I don't like to lie, but I can.”

“Good,” Isadora sighed again. “This just might work. It's awful that it's come to this, but I see no other way.”

“Me neither,” Liam said. “And Isadora, this isn't your fault. Nobody saw this coming. This is Sergei's fault all the way through.”

As the Ford pulled into the airport, Isadora stared out the window. She did not believe what Liam said, but it was good to hear it. Truth be told, she did not believe her plan would work. Boston was built to be impregnable and Steelewood headquarters was even more fortified than that. But if there was anyone in the world who could pull it off, it was the Holdsworth and her crew. Isadora never truly trusted anyone in her life until she came to know Hank, Lena, and the others from their misadventure twenty-five years ago. Her instincts told her that Liam was every bit as trustworthy as his parents. Isadora's instincts were not often wrong. 

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