A Trip to Uzbekistan
“I think this is the guy you want,” Max said, looking up from her computer. “Dr. Leonid Pavel, a nuclear scientist who works for the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter.”
Bane looked at the image of Dr. Pavel. Max continued. “He wrote a paper about weaponizing fusion reactions, published in Acta Physica Polonica. You said that a fusion reactor has already been built to be used to produce clean energy. According to Pavel’s research, the core of an energy fusion reactor can be converted into a nuke. A neutron generator and a tamper have to be inserted into the core—“
“Made from uranium-238,” Bane interjected.
Max nodded and continued. “Then it has to be boosted. From there, the X-rays produced from fission provide the temperature and pressure necessary for fusion reactions to take place. And boom. This is the bomb you were speaking of? The one I’m escaping from?”
“Yes. We’ll have to find a way to meet the good Dr. Pavel.”
Max diddled with the computer, cross-referencing data. She pulled up an itinerary. “We may run into a bit of luck in that regard, baby. He’ll be journeying to China to attend a conference for members of UNEDF. He’s giving a talk on asynchronous dynamic load balancing in Beijing.” She picked up a Blow-Pop and unwrapped it.
“From where is he traveling?” Bane asked.
“He’s on a lecture circuit,” she said as she put the Blow-Pop in her mouth. “Before he goes to Beijing, he will be in…” she ran a finger across the monitor, “Turkey.”
“What are the chances that he takes a flight with a stopover?”
Max started typing, and then pulled up another screen and entered data into that one. Two lists emerged. “Depends on when he leaves and which flight he takes, but they all have at least one stopover. A couple of those stopovers are in Uzbekistan. If you want to get his attention, that’d be your best bet. I’m sure you’re not trying to meet him in an airport or at a café.”
“Barsad is a native Uzbeki. We have access.”
A flashing red bar popped up on the second screen. Max toyed with the lollipop stick and frowned. “Hmm. He’s on the CIA watchlist.”
Bane moved to stand over her. “A man of his particular knowledge base would be. What can you find out about that?”
Max shrugged, typed in some commands and sighed. “I’ll have to get in touch with a couple of sources to find that out. Do you remember Marcus Brislin?”
“Dear old Marcus has quite a few CIA contacts, being that he’s a former agent. And in spite of you scaring the living shit out of him, we maintained our business relationship. He’s been so much more respectful of “Rocket” since meeting “Max.” I’m quite sure he can be of some use in that regard, especially if I Skype him with you sitting next to me.”
Bane put a hand on her bare shoulder. Max clapped hers over it and tapped her fingers. They were in the Republic of Mali, where Bane and his men were currently planning a coup for a wealthy businessman named John Daggett, a member of the Wayne Enterprises Board of Directors. Daggett wanted to wrest control of the gold, phosphate, salt and kaolin mining operations in the Kayes Region from the Griffith Group. Operatives put him in touch with Bane, who demonstrated in the past that he was able to get such things done. Bane agreed to stage a coup in return for three million dollars, work visas and unlimited use of Daggett’s construction crews once they arrived in Gotham City. Daggett, a greedy, passive-aggressive prick, wanted control of Wayne Enterprises, which Bane also assured Daggett that he could get. They were going to Gotham after the coup was complete.
“Set it up,” he said.
“You got it,” she replied, opening an email window. She sent a message to Marcus. Then she closed her eyes and stretched her arms before standing up and touching her toes. Max put her fingers to her temples and wiggled her head. She was tired; she’d spent the past couple of days doing research.
Bane stared at her. She’d been by his side from the moment they left Macau, helping him plan, helping him execute. Max had a unique, valuable perspective. She was able to simplify situations and reduce bloodshed; she joked in private that she was his lubricant. The things she wanted were very simple; orgasms and regular opportunities of downtime in luxury. She never asked for anything outright, but he could read her very well. “What do you need, Max?”
Max grinned at him as she caressed her neck, grateful that he knew her so well. “A couple of days on the Ivory Coast in a fully-stocked suite overlooking a beach.”
He nodded. It was as good as done. Anything Max wanted, Max got. “When?”
“When will control of the mining ops switch hands?”
“In four days.”
“I’ll go in three.”
He nodded. It was unspoken, but he would join her shortly after the coup, spend the night and they’d leave together the next day. That was the way it was always done. She needed time by herself and wanted time with him in a place that was not in a slum, a tunnel, a sewer, or any other type of shithole.
“When do you think you’ll hear from him?”
“Within 48 hours. He’s a misogynistic dickhole, but he’s reliable.”
Bane nodded again, adjusting his wrist support. It would be amusing to see the look on Marcus’ face when Marcus saw him. “We will be ready, then.”
Max eyed the computer clock. “It’s almost five.”
“We’ll go into the city in two hours.”
“Good,” she said. “Gives me time to take a nap.”
When he left the room, Max massaged her neck and arms and spent ten minutes stretching out. They were shacked up in a village just outside of Nioro du Sahel. Bane, with his magnetic personality and undeniable charisma, was able to amass a small army willing to help his cause. Max was impressed to see Bane pull this off repeatedly. It wasn’t money the men wanted; they were attracted to his power. They had no individual identity and didn’t care about glory or respect. They respected and feared Bane, as he was a brutal man capable of absolutely anything, and many of them were in awe of him and eager to follow him anywhere. Some men died in their excursions and some who survived stayed with him. They were extremely loyal. For some, including Barsad and Nagoye, the loyalty extended to Max. She respected their ability to be led without question and appreciated their devotion to Bane. She dubbed them the Red Scarf Mafia.
But then there were those who, while appreciative of Bane’s position and more than willing to be a part of his plans (she called them Testicles, because all they did was hang on), weren’t so nice to her. Not that she gave a damn. She knew that Barsad and Nagoye cautioned them against bothering her, but some people had to learn things the hard way. When they were in Germany, there was one man—an asshole named Jeremy—who openly propositioned her. Bane was talking to Barsad, and she was standing a couple of feet away, ruminating on something they discussed earlier when the man boldly walked up and sized her up. Max met his lewd gaze, calmly sucking a Blow-Pop.
“You got a problem?”
“What are you doing here, baby girl? Standing here in a room full of men dressed like that, sucking the hell out of a lollipop, you must be searching for your daddy. Got an application? I’ll fill it out, be your daddy, find out if that ass shakes as much as those jeans say it does and definitely give those lips something else to suck.” He licked his thick lips and Max cocked her head to one side. Bane stopped talking to Barsad and looked in her direction. The room, full of low chatter, got quiet.
Max looked down at her attire: well-worn jeans, La Canadienne utility boots reinforced with steel toes, long-sleeved microfiber top and a utility vest. She was also fully strapped; she wore a holster and a sheath on her thighs. The sheath held a seven-inch Kabar Bowie knife and the holster contained a Glock G19 Gen4. Underneath her utility vest, she wore a belt that had four secret compartments where she kept very sharp throwing knives tipped with her special compound. There was another sheath on her belt and it held a Milan Stiletto. She carried a pair of brass knuckles and Mace in her utility vest, had a .38 Smith & Wesson tucked in one of her boots, and the earrings she always wore looked harmless. A razor blade was tucked between her cheek and gum, a balisong was wedged in her cleavage and she carried a sap in her back pocket. Taking a page from her lover’s book, she wore a tendonitis brace on her right wrist, but it concealed a retractable wrist blade. She stayed armed to the teeth; had been that way ever since she left Macau. Max was no fool. She knew what she was getting into, but she wasn’t afraid.
“So you like what you see?” she said, casually talking around the lollipop.
“I do very much. Now I know you’re fucking somebody in this room. No man in here would let you slide by without trying to hit it.”
Max smiled at him, lowering her voice. “You mean you don’t know who it is? I should think that’s obvious.” He was clearly a moron.
“Doesn’t matter,” he said. “Whoever he is, he has nothing to do with me.”
“Come here, sugar,” she said, smiling at him. He smiled back and stepped forward, not seeing her hand enter her vest pocket. She closed her fingers around her brass knuckles. Bane watched, amused, knowing Max could handle herself. This little demonstration was necessary and he supported everything she did.
Jeremy walked up to Max and she leaned forward as if to whisper in his ear. Then, quicker than quick, she punched him in the gut, then in the face. His head snapped back and she grabbed him and locked her arm around his neck. She whipped out her Bowie and slit his nose. Then she put it to his throat.
“Still want me?” she purred around the Blow-Pop. “I’m very feisty.”
Jeremy was so stunned that he couldn’t quite figure out what to do next. She held him tight and that knife was sharp as hell. Blood from the slit ran down his nose and he was shocked that a woman got the drop on him. He certainly didn’t anticipate her being dangerous. “You…fucking…bitch…!”
“So unimaginative,” she chided, putting the tip of the Bowie against Jeremy’s windpipe while sliding the Blow-Pop to the other cheek. “You come at me with a whack-ass proposition and you get offended when I refuse? Some other gorgeous dime must have hurt your wittle feelings.” Max pressed hard enough to draw blood. “If you ever speak to me again, if you even so much as glance at me, I will gut you like a fucking trout.” Then she whispered in his ear, “Maybe I’ll poison your food. Either way, leave me alone.” She released Jeremy and kicked him in the back, sending him to his knees. Then she kicked him in the face, knocking him out cold.
Max pulled the Blow-Pop out of her mouth. “Punks jump up to get beat down,” she said, smiling down at him. Then Max squatted beside the unconscious idiot, put the lollipop back in her mouth and used the Milan Stiletto to carve her name into Jeremy’s cheek. When she stood up, she made eye contact with Bane. He didn’t move, didn’t blink, but she knew he approved and she winked at him. He turned back to Barsad and they continued their discussion. Other conversations also resumed.
No one came to Jeremy’s aid. No one bothered her after that.
They were in bed. Max was massaging Bane’s right hand. “We’ll have to make him an offer he can’t refuse,” Max said. “The CIA seriously wants him. I imagine he got on someone’s radar in a bad way.”
The mask was off and his eyes were closed. There was nothing but their quiet conversation and the sounds of night. Her fingers kneaded his knuckles and every now and then a contented sigh made its way out of his mouth. She was a shaman, a healer. She always made him feel better. “What kind of offer do you think we should make?”
Max shrugged as she continued to rub his hand. Earlier today, Bane beat a Testicle to death. Watching him fight absolutely never failed to turn Max into a teeming mass of horny hormonal woman and she wanted to throw herself at him when he walked away from the guy. Bane did the appropriate thing and took her back to their hut where she promptly fucked the hell out of him. He knew she was aroused by his raw brutality, but they never discussed why. Even though he didn’t experience pain, his body was not impervious to hurt. He never stopped her when she wanted to care for him. “Money works in most cases. Pavel’s a research scientist; I doubt he’s rolling in dough. But us scientists, we like our toys and toys cost money.”
“I have no intention of paying up.”
“The word you used was ‘offer,’ baby. You just want to get his attention. From there, you determine the best course of action. Marcus said that a CIA operative named Thomas Kirby, intends to meet with Dr. Pavel in Uzbekistan, but it’s not one of those meetings that both parties agree upon. Kirby plans to have Dr. Pavel kidnapped and taken to Langley. His knowledge is coveted.”
“We will have to make sure we intercept Dr. Pavel beforehand.”
“Kirby won’t be pleased to find him missing.”
“He won’t be missing. Dr. Pavel will keep his appointment with Mr. Kirby. I am interested in knowing what the CIA wants with him.”
“Fair enough. So you plan to get yourself kidnapped too?”
“For the short term.”
Max massaged his wrist. “How will you get out of there?”
“I’ll hijack the plane.”
“In that case, you’ll need some additional help.”
“What are you thinking about?”
“You play for keeps, so you’re not going to want Mr. Kirby running back to his bosses in Langley and reporting that you’ve taken their prize. Let’s face it, baby, you’ve got a reputation and they will come for you if you grab one of their agents. We need to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
“So we’ll hijack the plane and kill Mr. Kirby and his operatives.”
“But they’ll follow procedure and file a flight plan before taking off. They’ll have Dr. Pavel’s name on the manifest. So if you jack the plane and murder those men, then you’ll have a different kind of hell on your hands, which we don’t want. You play for keeps, so play for keeps. Hijack the plane, grab Pavel, and then crash it, let the CIA think it’s an accident. We’ve got to get you out beforehand. But remember, his name will be on the passenger manifest, so—”
“—I will need a deceased decoy for the good doctor.”
“Can you get access to a plane?”
“Well, if I intercept the CIA jet midair, then I can extract you and Dr. Pavel before the plane crashes. I know you’ve got some military connections that will do the actual extraction, but I’ll be flying the plane with Nagoye. I wouldn’t trust anyone else with that particular job.” She’d become an excellent pilot over the past couple of years.
“Then that takes care of that,” Bane said, rolling over to trap her beneath him. He stared down at her, not moving, meeting her eyes, the expression in them open in a way no one else ever saw. It took him zero amount of time to get used to her presence, especially during the night. He took Max’s hand and put it on his cheek, closing his eyes. She adjusted, taking his weight, and began caressing his face. It was a relaxing ritual; whenever he was done for the day and after his mask was maintained, Max massaged Bane’s ravaged visage. Nights were quiet, calm pockets of paradise, made ever more so by the touch of her hands and the feel of her mouth. They were never bothered; if something arose, Barsad and Nagoye handled it, for Bane never wanted his private time interrupted. His lieutenants were not stupid; they knew exactly what would befall them should that happen.
She made love to him through her fingers and her lips. It was difficult for him to make even the most rudimentary of dramatic lip movements, as he lost a significant amount of flesh around his lips and the scar tissue that formed over it inhibited said actions. As a result, Bane developed an oral fetish. He studied the mouths of people he interacted with and he always paid attention to Max’s and whatever she put in it. He never expressed it to her, but he knew that she was aware of it because she was always sucking on one of her lollipops or touching her mouth. She had ways of gracing him with a variety of tender yet passionate kisses. Max’s lips were full and soft and they were a heaven that Bane had easy access to. It was not something he would willingly let go of.
She stroked his head and began kissing his upper lip. Slowly, Max moved across the damaged contours of Bane’s mouth, languidly running her tongue over the rough skin, finishing with another and another and another sweet kiss. She fingered his ears and licked his nose. A low growl erupted from his throat and his hands found her short nightie; something sexy and uber-feminine that she wore on certain occasions. In spite of the Spartan lifestyle they led, he completely understood her need to embrace her femininity. He benefitted from it, so it wasn’t a problem.
He stopped tearing her clothes off a while back.
She stuck her tongue in his mouth and ran it over his upper palate, moving it ever so lightly along the ridge. He shivered uncontrollably, as she had never done that before and it…felt…good. Bane was no longer the blunt instrument she was once familiar with; now he was content to learn the limits of his abilities. Max was a patient teacher and every time they had sex, it became more and more enjoyable for him, which made it enjoyable for her. Their time away from the men, in luxuriant suites designed for nothing except pure seduction, was very, very intense.
Max remembered his words before they left Macau: “I’m not familiar with all of this.” Her response was: “Give it time.”
Max held Bane’s head and kissed him deeply. His hands slipped between them to pull the ‘V’ of her nightie open because he wanted her nipples. Her nipples drove him crazy. She never wore anything that overemphasized her femininity; she couldn’t do anything about her ass or her boobs, but the utility vest made cleavage a non-issue. Sometimes when she was standing by him and the vest was partially unzipped, he saw that her nipples were hard and once seen, couldn’t be unseen. It was not deliberate; Max didn’t play those kinds of games, but Bane always made a motion for her to zip a little higher. He was 99% certain that none of the others noticed, as she didn’t allow hardly anyone but Barsad and Nagoye near her, but nipples were nipples and a lot of men were fascinated with—and thus distracted by—nipples.
Bane knew that sometimes she struggled with them hardening at random moments and staying hard all day due to hormonal changes. When she disrobed in the evenings, they were so hard and tight that even the merest breeze was a weird agony. Max whined and lay on the bed and he, brutish man that he was (and selfish where Max was concerned) made a beeline for the bed and had those tender little truffles in his mouth within moments. She told him that the warmth of his mouth always made them feel better. He couldn’t suck the way a normal man could, but he could definitely apply pressure and there was nothing wrong with his tongue or his teeth.
In time, he was buried within her and they moved in tandem, noises just above the threshold of silence. Max’s long legs wrapped around Bane’s broad back and her hands were on his cheeks, always touching him in his most vulnerable place. Was it insane that he could want her like this? That he would have her under any terms? That he wouldn’t try to carry on without the safety of her arms. He was a horrible man, a brutal man, a man who could kill without thought, a man who preferred chaos, a man who instigated revolution, a man who was, in his own words, necessary evil. That a woman like Max, who was not evil, not brutal, not horrible, but able to be with him, support him, take care of him, maybe even…well…maybe even that…if she was able to accept him just as he was, then how bad was he really? It didn’t matter. Talia’s innocence and his need to protect her exposed him, and he had taken great pains to remove that aspect of his personality. But it was far too late to do anything about this.
“Roll over,” she said.
He obeyed. Max clenched her muscles, holding him inside. She put her hands on his broad chest and met his darkened gaze in the low candlelight and smiled as she rode him. His hands were on her boobs, as always, alternately squeezing and pinching.
“Baby, you feel so good,” she whispered. She was dickmatized and completely fine with it.
A bizarre noise escaped him; it was indescribable. “Max,” he said, unable to stop bucking his hips.
“You know how I get when I see you fighting, especially the Testicles. I was so hot for you watching you beat down that guy and I would have jumped you right then…thank the Lord you knew what I needed because I was ready to explode…”
He remembered the man. Bane had been watching him over the past couple of weeks; he was brought into the fold by another soldier who vouched for him. Instead of listening to instructions and following orders, the man’s attention wavered around Max. She wasn’t aware of it, but Bane recognized the look in the man’s eyes. It was the same one he saw in the prisoners’ eyes when Melisande was raped and murdered in Pena Dura, and it was the same as the one his enemies had when they went after Talia. The merc was subtle with his observations; he never approached Max or even spoke to others about her. But Bane knew the look of a predator. While he had no doubt that Max could disembowel the man in under a minute, he didn’t want him anywhere near her. So when the guy misinterpreted a set of instructions, Bane used the opportunity as a discipline exercise for the new crew to determine if they could be loyal to someone who could beat them to death with fists the size of Daisy canned hams. Then he murdered the soldier who brought the would-be rapist into the fold, and never planned to tell Max the true reason why he killed them. She never asked. There were some things she was smart enough not to question.
She brought him to climax first and then he used his wonderfully blunt fingers to finish her off. Max got up and went to where they kept large containers of water, soaked a rag, and then cleaned up. Then she lay down on top of Bane, flattening his distorted mouth with a loud smack! before giving him an Eskimo kiss. He was quite beside himself.
“Get some sleep; you’ve got a long day tomorrow. And I’ll be going to the Ivory Coast. I’ll see you in three days, baby.”
The plane was a C-130 Hercules, a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. On board were half a dozen paramilitary soldiers Bane hand-picked for the extraction. The plan was to fly over the smaller CIA plane and have the soldiers rappel down and attach cables and explosives to the fuselage. Max would then take the Hercules higher, causing the wings and tail to shear. The soldiers would then blow the back of the plane off and extract Bane and Dr. Pavel. She asked him to wear a small transmitter so they could track the plane and he left in the company of Barsad and two other men. Barsad was going to masquerade as Pavel’s captor and inform the CIA that the other “prisoners” were sent to intercept him on Bane’s orders. There were no plans to extract the other men from the plane; they would gladly give their lives if their general told them to. The soldiers would dump a corpse after doing a blood transfusion and then return to the Hercules with Bane and Dr. Pavel, who would likely be shitting bricks in fear. Bane made it all sound so simple and Max did not think for one second that he couldn’t pull it off.
The moment the soldiers returned to the plane, Max pulled up, taking the Hercules higher into the sky. Once they leveled off, she told Nagoye to take over and exited the cabin. Bane was removing the harness from an unconscious Dr. Pavel, who looked extremely pale.
“Is he dead?”
“We can land in forty minutes and change planes in Navoiy. I’ve got a private plane waiting to take us stateside.” Chiang, one of her customers who was a member of the Triads, was very helpful in that regard. They could land at a private airport outside of Rapid City and drive into Gotham…no security checks, no customs, no interruptions, no questions, nothing. In Navoiy, they would pick up Barsad and the rest of Bane’s close-knit group of mercs. The Testicles were going to be conveniently left behind. Bane would amass another army once they got to Gotham City.
Bane nodded. Now that they had the good Dr. Pavel, they could proceed in their plans to destroy the city. Max whipped a jump drive out of her utility vest and motioned for one of the soldiers to bring her small laptop. “I got a name for you. One that our employer John Daggett will find most useful in his quest to take over Wayne Enterprises.”
Bane stood up and walked over to her, holding out one large hand. “And that name is?”
Max gave him the drive and a sultry smile. “Selina Kyle.”