For as large as the complex was, it was barely visible within the shadowy forests which seemed to be slowly consuming the bland building. Its non-descript features would not stick out to any bystanders who happened upon it, not that any would happen upon it – or live to tell about it – this far out of the way.
Trevor Adams sighed as he surveyed the complex from a distance. It looked like Kofi and Boulder’s intel was solid. They had finally found the remnants of the Red Assassin clan. Trevor’s twin sister Victoria appeared at his side. He gestured to her with a flowing motion of his hand. She replied in a punctuated fist-pumping movement. She was asking who would take the first kill.
The two had been communicating in their private language since they were six. Trevor nodded and indicated Victoria should get first blood. She grinned from ear to ear as if she were about to accept a trophy. Before they could move out though, an imposing shape stood in their way.
The Black Assassin.
The massive ninja was garbed in imposing black armor from head to toe. Trevor bristled at the sight of him. Some things never changed. Victoria instinctively went for her weapons, but Trevor put out a cautionary hand to stop her.
The Black Assassin lifted his mask to reveal the face of Robert Ruffner. They were friends once, but that was a very, very long time ago. Before the Rainbow Wars, a war where the various colored ninja clans were defeated by The Collective. This was before Robert reformed the Assassin Society in his image.
“You both know this is bullshit, right?” Robert said.
“You’re one to talk,” Victoria immediately challenged him. She had a sharp blade in each hand. Trevor kept a steady hand. He knew Robert rubbed her the wrong way. Hell, he rubbed Trevor the wrong way. He was half-tempted to let his sister go to work, but he knew that wouldn’t solve anything, plus Robert was always the stronger one in the group.
“The Assassins follow my lead now,” Robert said. “And half of the people in there have nothing to do with your little vendetta.”
“What do you mean little?” Victoria growled. “He killed our fucking family or did you forget that?”
“No, I didn’t forget,” Robert said. “But that’s why I reformed the Assassins, to stop what happened to you two from ever happening to anyone else. The world needs people like us. People who can kill those who need to be killed.”
There was silence between the trio. Finally, Trevor spoke up.
“What do you propose?” he asked. Victoria gave him a frustrated glare.
“You can kill the man at the top without murdering his soldiers,” Robert said. “They don’t have anything to do with this.”
“That’s convenient for you,” Victoria said. “All the more soldiers for your army.”
Robert caught Victoria’s gaze. “I’m nothing like him. Not even close. I’ve turned the Assassin Society into a force for good.”
“I’m sure he thought the same,” Victoria replied. “Until he didn’t.”
Trevor didn’t say anything, but he had to admit that his sister had a point. The previous Black Assassin had taken a team of elite warriors and turned them into one of the largest armies in the world. Would Robert go down the same path one day?
Two smaller forms shuffled behind Robert. It was his sons Troy and Bobby. Robert was starting them in the family business at an early age. His predecessor had done the same thing.
“Fine, we’ll do it your way,” Trevor said. “For now.”
Robert nodded, and then gave another silent gesture to his sons. In an instant, they vanished into the trees, clearing the path for them. The three of them moved towards the compound.
“They’ve breached the compound,” Robert said, raising one hand while he listened in on his comms. “I’ve instructed them to refrain from taking lives unnecessarily.”
There was an eruption of sound from the compound, and then nothing. Trevor started to move towards the compound, but Robert stopped him.
“They have this under control. Bobby’s really taken to his ninja training like a fish to water,” Robert said. “And Troy . . . Troy is his mother’s son, down to those damn power gloves. He’s strong, fast and knows how to get into an opponent’s head and just demoralize them.”
“You must be proud,” Trevor retorted in a neutral tone. Robert looked on.
“I am. I just hope they don’t make the mistakes we did. I want them to find the balance we never could,” Robert said. “We need to break this cycle of pain and trauma.”
Trevor just scoffed. “That’s great, Robbie. I’m happy for your sunshine and unicorns approach, but we’ve spent the last ten years training for this motherfucker.”
“And it hasn’t gotten us anything but a decade down the drain,” Victoria said beside him. “We should have taken George Elder’s offer as Boulder did.”
The three of them climbed onto the rooftops of the complex. Bobby and Troy waited patiently for them as they finally made it atop the roof. Robert turned to Victoria and Trevor.
“The compound is cleared,” he reached out a hand. Trevor took it and wrapped his arms around his shoulder. Victoria did so as well.
“I hope it’s everything you want it to be,” Robert said as he donned the Black Assassin mask. “But remember, only the Red Assassin dies tonight.”
“If you survive, this is the path forward,” the Black Assassin’s words hung in the air as they vanished into the night.
The remaining pair began to infiltrate the building. The security system was down, but there were still a few guards up and about. The two encountered sporadic resistance, but none were a match for their advanced skills. True to their word, however, neither Trevor nor Victoria took any lives as they proceeded through the compound.
Within ten minutes, they had reached their objective. They could see the Red Assassin lying prone in an adjacent room, presumably resting. The security had largely been neutralized. It was the perfect time to strike.
Or so Trevor thought when he realizes one step too late all he had succeeded in doing was letting his guard down. Before he could correct his mistake, he was thrust in the air and threw a nearby window, landing several feet from the edge of the compound.
Victoria quickly moved to face their attacker. She caught his smile first, pearly white teeth that gleaned in the darkness. The man stepped into the light. He was tall and light-skinned, wearing a dark yellow ninja suit. Victoria went for her gun, but Yelloman dropped to his knee, launching a throwing knife into the air that grazed her right hand. Cursing in pain, Victoria leaped into the air and kicked at Yelloman, who neatly dodged the attack. Victoria slid to the ground, trying to sweep Yelloman’s leg out from under him, but her attacker swiftly dodged that attack, sliding closer to her in the process.
“Is this your best?” he smirked.
“No,” Victoria said as she returned upright, using Yelloman’s evasive maneuver against him as she grabbed his arm and hip-tossed him to the ground. Yelloman was caught off-guard, but he recovered enough to land on his feet. Victoria saw her opening, delivering a roundhouse kick that sent him staggering several steps backward.
“Save some for me?” Trevor announced as he joined the fray. Yelloman delivered a rapid fury of punches, clearly trying to take Trevor out of the fight so he could even the odds. Trevor dodged most of them, but he was still recovering from that cheap shot from Yelloman earlier. He started to drop to one knee to recover but used the opportunity to deliver a blow to Yelloman’s knee. He cried out in pain and tried to kick at him. Trevor responded with another slide toward him.
Yelloman deftly jumped out of the way – and right into Victoria’s blade. He cried out in pain as the knife cut through his suit and into his flesh.
That’s when Trevor noticed the secret wall – and the clean-cut black man behind him. As it opened, the stranger stepped out and pointed a gun at Victoria.
“That’s enough of that,” he said. “Drop the gun, bitch.”
The possibilities ran through Victoria’s head. She didn’t move, but she didn’t drop the gun either.
“I know what you’re thinking, but I assure you, I won’t miss,” the man said.
“Beedy, I can take them!” Yelloman pleaded. Beedy just rolled his eyes.
“The target is down,” Beedy said. “These people aren’t the fight.”
“You got a funny way of showing it,” Victoria growled.
“Didn’t I tell you to drop your gun?” Beedy said.
“Yeah,” Victoria said. “But you didn’t say anything about my knife.”
She tossed the knife to Trevor, who had read her eyes the moment she had mentioned it. He caught the knife, and then with a twist of his hips, sent the knife soaring back at Beedy’s head. He nearly gasped when Beedy plucked it out of the air like it was nothing. Beedy laughed then slammed the butt of his gun into the back of Victoria’s head. Beedy drops the knife to her feet as Trevor moved as he watched his sister topple over. Beedy kept the gun pointed squarely at Victoria’s unconscious body.
“She’s lucky I don’t blow her ass away for that shit,” Beedy said. “Yello, let’s go.”
Yelloman started to move, but not before giving a wary glance to Trevor.
“Who are you?” Trevor asked.
“Fuck you, that’s who!” Yelloman yelled back, still admonishing his cut suit.
“No need to be rude,” Beedy said. “We’re just like you. People have been wronged by Red Adams. You’re his kids, right? Well, you’re too late. Fuckers done bit the dust.”
“Bullshit,” Trevor said.
“Go see for yourself,” Beedy said, moving away from the doorway. “We went through four or five body doubles, but this one’s been genetically verified. It’s him.”
Victoria came to, cursing and rubbing the back of her head. Beedy and Yelloman took this as an opportune time to leave. She watched her two attackers nonchalantly leave.
“What’d I miss?” she asked Trevor.
“I kicked their asses and I won,” Trevor said ruefully.
Trevor and Victoria entered the centermost part of the compound. The entire place was wrecked, with dead bodies scattered around, clearly the work of Yelloman and Beedy. And in the center lay their father, the Red Assassin himself. His corpse had his arms wrapped around another assassin, apparently shielding himself.
“Even in death you were there for everyone but your own damn children,” Trevor said, kicking at the bloodied corpse. Victoria pulled him away.
“I’m guessing this is a bad time?” they heard a familiar voice. They turned to see George Elder. Assati Osei appeared behind him, carrying the unmistakable box of C4 explosives.
“What the hell, George?” Victoria called.
“It has to be bittersweet for you guys, huh?” George said. “I told you I’d get him.”
“So those two assholes, they were your guys?” Trevor shot back. George nodded.
“We had a small window of opportunity. We had to take it,” George said. “We didn’t have time to reach out to you, without risking Red slipping away.”
“Allez George, nous avons du travail à faire,” Osei said. The woman was fluent in several languages but only spoke to George in French, for reasons that escaped everyone else.
“Of course, we have all the information we need,” George said. “But come on, there is nothing that would put this chapter of our lives behind us like blowing the shit out of this place. It’ll be quite a view from the mountaintop.”
Several minutes later, Trevor and Victoria watched as the compound containing their father and his followers was blown to hell and burned to the ground. In contrast to the loud sounds of distruction, Trevor and Victoria were quiet. For once, each was consumed by their own thoughts, and for once, neither knew what the other was thinking.
Assati Osei pulled up in a black car as George exited the vehicle.
“It’s going to be hard to let go. Trust me, I know,” George said. “I was hoping you’d consider giving this whole teammate thing another go. Trust me, Frank did his best, but the government’s more structured than Frank was. My agency is making a difference out there. I’d like the two of you on board.”
Trevor scoffed. “You sound just like Robert.”
George shook his head. “We might have different methods and different beliefs, but at the end of the day, we both believe if we’re going to survive we have to do it together.”
“I’m done being an aimless weapon,” Victoria said. “I need structure. I need… a life.”
She headed to the car. She turned back to her brother.
“You coming?” she asked.
Trevor had never been separated from his sister since the day she was born.
But there was a first time for everything. Trevor just watched the flames continue to consume the building.
“The past is an endless maze, Trevor,” George said. “You guys have been lost in the hedges ever since Frank and Demetri found you. After Demetri died, you went back to the bushes, chasing your demons to get even with Red.”
Trevor didn’t respond.
“You’re a weapon. There’s no changing that. You can either be used for good or evil,” George said. “Either way, it would be a shame to waste your talent, however, it’s your choice. I just hope you make the right one.”
Assati honked the horn. Victoria gave one last longing look to her brother before she descended into the car.
“George, monte dans la voiture et arrête de courir ta bouche!” he heard Assati say.
Trevor didn’t move. Even when the car left he was still standing, watching the flames consume everything he had worked for.
Five minutes after the car pulled down the drive, he had taken residence on a log, alone, not knowing what he was going to do next.