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Chaos - Hour of Darkness Chapter 2/5
Summary: Inspired by and dedicated to Faye_Dartmouth and her co-author, lena7142. None of the  characters are mine, but I was so moved by their story, Rack and Ruin, this one wrote itself with my own very Pollyanna twist to it. I highly recommend you read their story, it’s a wonderful read.

Hour of Darkness

Chapter 2:

Inspired by and dedicated to Faye_Dartmouth and her co-author, lena7142. None of the  characters are mine, but I was so moved by their story, Rack and Ruin, this one wrote itself with my own very Pollyanna twist to it. I highly recommend you read their story, it’s a wonderful read.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

--Let it be by The Beatles

He boarded the awaiting plane. He tried to keep his hands from trembling the entire flight. How far he had fallen he thought to himself. His arrogance had been veiled in the humor he had used in order to keep people guessing, even his friends. Where was that arrogance now? Broken along with his bones, his spirit, his resolve and yet there he was, back in Morovia, about to perform an extraction that he didn’t think he could pull off. As expected, Adele and Fay had admitted that there were few operatives left in the region and those that were still there weren’t willing to risk their lives, to entrust their lives to a tainted agent. Billy couldn’t blame them.

He was alone. Just like he had been when he was last here, but suddenly, there was anger and betrayal infusing his determination.

He had one shot and Adele was right, he knew exactly where to go.

He arrived at Illyich’s shop and without bothering to announce himself, he pulled out his gun and kicked in the door. There was satisfaction in appying violent force upon it. Casey would be proud, he thought.

Illyich had been startled and he tried to reach for his gun, but Billy had been quicker even being so woefully out of shape and out of practice. It was a revelation that despite all the abuse and the extensive recovery he had gone through, both physical and mental, his mind and body could still call up skills instilled in him at a moment’s notice as if they were reflex. He felt like Jason Bourne without the amnesia. Oddly, though, he found himself wishing for that as well. Not knowing what he had done, to be able to wipe out those memories, memories that still plagued him as if they were still happening to him would have been a welcome relief.

But no luck there. Instead, he’d have to make do with using all of the intell he had gleaned as a prisoner to save his friends, to make those memories work for him, as opposed to having them destroy him. So he poured all of his energies into getting to his friends before it was too late, to spare them the fate that he had lived through, had barely survived through. It was all he had left to offer them now.

Billy had stopped Illyich with a quick grab and twist of his hand and palm as well as just the right amount of pressure on his thumb to subdue him. He then jabbed the barrel of his gun into Illyich’s throat. He enjoyed the edgy eagerness it brought to the surface, the power driven by the rage that filled him felt satisfying, felt right, felt owed to him.

“Billy! You are back, yes? What a lovely surprise! It's good to see you friend," Illyich said nervously.

“You can bugger off the niceties, Illyich. I know what you are. I know what you did to me and even worse for you, I know what you did to my mates.”

Billy’s voice was laced with a hoarse growl of contempt, his tone was icy cold and unforgiving.

“Wait, wait, I can explain -” Illyich tried to squeal.

Billy pressed the barrel harder into his throat and Illyich made a choking noise.

“Nothing you can say will save you now, you traitorous git,” Billy spat out. “You’re going to tell me where my mates are or I will snap your windpipe like a twig and leave you to suffocate slowly.”

“If you kill me, you won’t find your friends, yes?” Illyich said, thinking he was making a valid point.

“Oh, you have no idea how I wish I could just end your miserable life right now, you bastard, but killing you would be much too easy for you. No, first you're going to help me find my friends because if you don't, I’ll make sure you experience the fullest extent of what I learned from my lovely little incarceration at the hands of the people you sold me out to or even better, I’ll just hand you over to them myself, tell them you betrayed them too. Double agents are worse scum than your average, garden variety traitor, yeh? How’d you like that, aye?”

“No, no, they will -”

“They will what? Torture you? Pummel you until you feel like a tenderized piece of meat? Smash your hands until you can’t even grasp the bloody spoon they give you to eat the slop they toss at you just to keep you marginally alive so that they can start all over again, aye? OH, but my favorite was the adrenaline. I must say, that was a mighty creative touch, didn’t see that coming, kept me from passing out, you see, from escaping every exquisite piece of pain they inflicted. Sounds like a right vacation, don’t it, Illyich?”

Illyich could only listen and tremble as he heard a thread of madness in Billy’s voice, the lack of compassion in it, more revealing, the lack of humor which was Billy’s gift. Billy worried as well at how much he was enjoying seeing the terror in Illyich’s eyes as he threatened him.

“Oh, and don’t know if you’ve heard, but they broke me, they tore me to shreds, you see? Funny thing that, though, you see, you should be dead at their hands as well, since I gave you up just like you did me, and yet here you are still breathing, not a scratch on you. Here I was feeling guilty about doing that to you. How does that work, exactly, Illyich? Hmmm? Perhaps it was because you could still be useful to them? That they needed you to bring them others, aye? After all, look at how easy it was for them to rip out information out of me, turn me into a right proper Benedict Arnold, yeh? Maybe they were hoping you would sell out others for a good price. Others like MY FRIENDS! IS THAT IT, ILLYICH?”

Billy shoved Illyich into a chair, then he pressed the barrel to his temple.

“Please, please, I had to. They would have killed me! I had no choice!”

Billy clenched at the memory of his breaking, spilling everything he knew in the hopes of ending the pain. Could he be no different than Illyich now?

Analyzing it wouldn’t change the past, his past. He could blame Illyich for selling him out, his torturers for the pain they inflicted, his mates for not coming soon enough, but in the end, it all came down to him. He broke, he gave in. There was no undoing that or the eradication of whatever was left of Billy’s conscience. The only thing he had left was the rescue of his friends. He had no expectations for redemption.

“None of your excuses matter anymore. You better have enjoyed the thirty pieces of silver you got for me, yeh? Because it will be your last. I’ll make sure of that one way or another. Must’ve turned quite a tidy little profit for yourself when I broke, aye?. The others, they won’t break so easily and not at all if I have any say. I won’t let them suffer like I did.”

Illyich could only continue to tremble in terror because the once affable man that he had dealt with before was gone. All he saw in the steely blue eyes boring into his was emptiness, there was no empathy for him in them, only revenge.

“You're going to tell me where they took my friends, better yet, you're going to show me and help me get in. I’d do it without you because frankly, your company disgusts me, but I was knocked out then drugged when they snatched me so you’re going to have to take me there. Lucky you, yeh? You’re going to be my bloody tour guide.”

“No, no, please -”

“SHUT UP! You ARE going to take me there, you hear me? This isn’t a choice. Just like you gave me no choice. And if you’re lucky, I might have a mind not to kill you when it’s all said and done.”

Billy shook with frustration, rage, and uncertainty.They were all warring for dominance.

At the root of all of it was an overwhelming desire to make himself worthy again, worthy of rescuing his mates, worthy of rebuilding his reputation, and supreme above anything else he could achieve in his now shattered life was being worthy of his mates’ trust again. How he ached to regain that from them for only in doing that would he be able to seal the desolated hole where his soul used to be, the void that had been created by the surrender of it to the foolish lie he had told himself, that once relinquished, he’d be freed from the pain. Instead, he had traded one form of torture for another, had abdicated his belief in rescue, more heinously, his belief in his friends in the pursuit of that freedom. That pain was worse than all he had suffered in that cell. He had to get to his mates before they, too, lost hope for rescue, before they lost hope in him completely, in his full recovery for only in saving them could he save himself.

"But if my friends die, I guarantee you, I will make you pay with maximum prejudice. Nothing will save you if that happens," Billy said, surprising himself at the lack of compassion in the threat.

So now he found himself stalking through the very corridors he had been dragged through to and from his cell for what seemed like an interminable period of time. He forced himself to remember as much as he could about the hallways and as many of the details of the place that would help him find the others. He had to separate himself from the emotions of those memories and act indifferent as if he were just on another mission. It took much more willpower and concentration than he had anticipated and occasionally flashes would seize him and he’d have to take a minute to clear it before it overwhelmed him.

Illyich had led him to the compound, giving him all the access codes he knew, but he also told him that he would have to get a key card from one of the guards, that much trust was denied him.

Billy couldn’t risk Illyich alerting anyone while he infiltrated the compound so he had knocked him unconscious, gagged him, tied him up then placed him into the trunk of the car they arrived in, parking it just outside of the grounds. He had to hope that it would give him enough time to rescue his friends. Though he had feared the impulse of wanting to kill Illyich, had expected to lose control once at the compound, something in him had reminded him that if he let himself kill Illyich, he would become no better than the men who had tortured him, who had killed Tsykalov before his eyes. He wouldn't be able to regain himself, to look his mates in the eyes again. He'd then be as good as dead. Something of his former self that was still alive in him was telling him that there was enough left of that man to salvage. It emboldened him to keep going.

He tapped in the entry codes that Illyich had given him to gain initial access. He pulled his gun and based on his directions moved along the hallways towards the cells.

One thing he knew without Illyich having to tell him, his friends were below ground, away from sunlight, away from hope. All of the dirty work was done where no one could hear the screams, see the wounds; where the smell of blood, urine and feces could be contained and continue to haunt and decompose whatever vestige of spirit that still clung to each prisoner for eventual rescue. Even the optimistic ones. Billy knew that once he was down there, every memory would reveal itself in living color as well as in 3D sound and smell. The assault would likely send his sensory recall into overload. It would take a monumental force of will not to succumb to the helplessness he had felt while he was being held captive there. The thought of preventing his mates from enduring anymore time there continued to keep the overrides in check. He just had to hope they would hold.

He traversed swiftly through, watching, and listening. His spy senses sparked again and it had happily surprised him. He had worried that they would never come back again or that he wouldn’t be able to access them when he had challenged them upon arriving at the prison, that being there would paralyze him. It gave him the much needed confidence that he could rescue his friends.

He came toward a corner and heard voices, Russian, and footsteps moving away. He craned his head around the corner and watched two guards walk away, laughing.

It gave Billy both a shiver at the indifference and a resurgence of the rage at wanting them to pay. He was certain that they had probably dragged him in and out of his cell at some point in his captivity.

Once the guards had left, Billy looked around and found a doorway with a card reader beside it. He knew that just as Illyich had said, in order for him to go any further he would have to subdue one of the guards.

He felt that he was far from the shape he had been before his imprisonment and uncertainty crept in about his ability to subdue a well-trained, physically imposing guard. Illyich was an old man, hardly a challenge, but he had remembered the strength of the guards when he had ceased to be able to walk and they had dragged him to his cell and back with relative ease, especially the more weight he lost. He clenched his eyes closed and took a breath to erase the recollection. Still, contrary to Casey Malick’s assumption that nothing is better than thrashing someone into submission, Billy would have to employ more subtler methods, not only because of his own compromised physical condition, but to keep stealth still working for him.  A loud commotion would hardly serve his cause or work in his favor. Suddenly he had wished he had done, at least, some of his obligatory PT exercises -- who knew he would be back in Morovia doing a one-man extraction of his friends? Casey would never have caught himself unprepared. Hindsight was lovely, Billy thought to himself.

He ducked into another small hallway, watching, listening, calculating.

He didn’t have as intimate a knowledge of the routine on the upper floor. He had been unconscious when he had been captured and Illyich was no spy. His visits here were more of the ass-kissing variety, like he had been towards him and the others, all fluff and effusive declarations of friendship. He was too busy smiling and complimenting to notice the rotation of the guards and where they were placed. Still, Billy could make assumptions based on his observations at that moment.

There weren’t many guards here. Since every access to the prisoners were underground, all the security on this floor was for show and it worked to their advantage not to look too conspicuous to the random observer. Guards watching an innocuous compound would raise suspicions and questions. So for now, the only physical subjugating he would have to do would be to one guard to get his key card. With that card in hand, he had the key to the kingdom. He had to count on that and he knew that once subdued, he would have to then tie up and hide the guard to make sure that he wouldn’t be found immediately to alert of his presence.

Billy reached for his belt buckle. He had to smile. This was Michael’s technique for hiding anything contraband. Even Casey had adopted it. Michael used it for SIM cards. Billy had a couple of small hypodermics with just enough drug in each of them to knock someone out, hopefully for several hours. He only had the one attempt at overcoming the guard with the shot so the margin for error was non-existent

He watched, he listened.

He had to admit that it felt good to be back in the game again even with the new uncertainty that dogged him. Perhaps it was just. He had gotten too comfortable, things were going too well for him. He had become the fool that he had warned Rick about not becoming before he had kidnapped LaRouche. He had to, once again, appreciate the edge that fear provided. He had lost the necessary understanding of his own vulnerability, the knowledge of the fragility of life which kept operatives sharp and safe and he had paid dearly for it.

Perhaps a little humility had been in order, but he would have given anything not to have gotten that lesson the way that he had, not because of his own pain and suffering but because of the pain and suffering he had caused others. That he could never wish away.

He heard the footsteps. Single set. One guard. He held the needle in his palm. He had to wait for the right moment to achieve the necessary angle in order to plunge it precisely into either the jugular or carotid for the quickest effect.

He only had one shot at it.

His heart raced, his hand trembled a bit. It harked him back to his early days as an agent in MI6, young, naive, patriotic, and eager. He wouldn’t recognize that man, jaded and ruined as he was now.

The guard walked past oblivious to Billy’s presence. Billy took his shot and plunged the needle in. Simultaneously, he grabbed the guard’s head, cupping his mouth to silence him until the drug took effect. Thankfully it had been so swift that Billy didn’t have to fight against the guard’s struggle. Ah, the Agency’s chemists were geniuses.

He took the key card from the guard’s pants pocket, opened a nearby door with it, and found a storage room. Perhaps mercurial fate was on his side after all. He dragged the guard into it.  Billy tied him up with whatever was available in it and crept back out again.

He took in a few rapid breaths, both adrenaline-induced as well as fear-induced. The rush he felt was intoxicating. He was acting purely on instinct and it felt good to feel the switch turn on, a sense of auto-pilot engaging.

Key card in hand, he headed for the doorway he had spotted earlier, slid it through the card slot quickly, saw the flash of the green light indicating clearance and opened it. He ducked through it.

It was a stairway as he had surmised. Satisfied that there would be less traffic on the stairs as opposed to a nearby elevator, he traversed down them, ever vigilant about listening for other footsteps or doors opening.

Billy moved quickly, but quietly, taking a glance through every door window at the landings of each floor. He was still in unfamiliar territory. He didn’t know which floor contained the prisoners so he had to carefully check each floor for any kind of evidence or familiarity. 

A couple more flights down, he spied through the latest door window and saw two guards dragging an unconscious prisoner likely back to his cell. Observing the emaciated condition, Billy felt empathy for the man’s plight, understanding it all too well. He had looked that way once, depleted of nourishment and hope.

He stiffened against the wall, closed his eyes and panted to keep panic from seeping into his body.

He had found the prison floor.

He felt his courage seeping out of him. It was one thing to be in an unfamiliar place, he could keep his dread in check.

Now that he had found where he had lived for three months in degradation, real terror was now settling into his body. And he despised himself for the almost overwhelming alarms going off in his mind.

All he had wanted to do was turn back, run away, call Fay and Adele, tell them where to find the compound and leave it to others to make the rescue, but then he heard it. Someone whimpering in the hallway, begging to be let go, bargaining with the guards that he would do anything if they would just let him die.

Billy had wished for that as well and he knew that the man would be sorely disappointed. His pleas would go unheeded.

He closed his eyes and thought about his friends, facing the same debasement and he knew that he had no choice, that it was the right choice, the only choice. A choice that he wanted to make happen, to overcome the potentially paralyzing anxiety he knew was just within his reach if he chose to surrender to it.  He forced his spy skills to push away the anxiety if not the fear and strategically thought out his next moves. He had to analyze the situation.

The good news was Michael, Rick and Casey hadn’t been prisoners long. At best, Adele had gotten to him as soon as they had gone dark. At most, five days. Not exactly comforting, but short enough of a duration that Casey would still be viable as long as there weren’t any broken bones, always a possibility if Casey had encouraged his innermost weapon and fought back with his usual zeal, a full-on thrashing the reward for his rebellion.

Rick was the one Billy worried about the most. He was still young and idealistic. Those qualities could be double-edged swords in these situations. At least he wasn’t alone. He had Michael and Casey to help him navigate, but Billy worried nonetheless that at the end of this experience, Rick would be scarred psychologically that much more quickly. Torturers didn’t play by patriotic rules. There was no Geneva Convention here. The love of the ruble over the love of the motherland that he had pointed out in Volgograd played out here in stark brutality. The price for having broken a spy was in of itself priceless. It removed yet one more impediment to the more sinister machinations of greed and opportunity and it would serve as an effective morale breaker, showcasing how fragile a man’s ego, a man’s loyalty were. It was a win-win.

So, first thing to do was to set in motion the tactics he employed in those early days of his captivity before the torture began to wear down his resolve. He was concentrating and focusing on all of the nuances that went on around him. Guard shift changes, the changes in direction they made as they led him down the hallways, how many of them were patrolling the hallways and their intervals, the number of steps from his cell to the torturer’s den of iniquity. His concentration had been vivid and razor sharp for several days, maybe even weeks, even after bones had been broken and copious amounts of  blood had been spilled. He had left no detail unrecorded. He had worried though that by the end of it all, all of that valuable intell would have been washed away with the anguish of betrayal, but trying to rally his focus at that moment, he was relieved and pleased to find them easily recalled.

It was time to leave his insecurities behind. They had no place where he was going and what he had to accomplish.

“Right then,” he said. “Once more onto the breach, shall we, aye?”

TBC - Thanks for reading