The train clicked along the rails. Each vibration permeated the carriage floor, traveling up Fenix’s tailbone until it reached his aching skull. If his numb posterior from sitting on the cold steel floor for hours didn’t keep him awake, the constant vibrations exacerbated by his hangover would.
If only the agent he had waited for at the bar had arrived with the goods earlier. Had that been the case, he wouldn’t have drunk so much, he wouldn’t have slept in, he wouldn’t have been late for the train, and he wouldn’t have been forced to break into the one place accessible after leaping onto it: the rear storage carriage.
The hatch to the carriage suddenly screeched open, letting in the moonlight and the crisp night air. A young man staggered in and Fenix gestured for him to close the hatch so they wouldn’t have to yell at each other over the howling wind. He struggled to close it again, breathing heavily as he turned to face him.
“So, Ryan, did you find a way to get into the passenger compartments?” Fenix asked.
Ryan wiped the sweat and dark, windswept hair from his forehead. “There’s a door at the back that I tried knocking on, but the whole carriage was empty.”
He inclined his head. “Well, it was. I shot off the deadbolt and managed to get it open.”
“Seriously?” Fenix rose to his feet, stomping his heels to rid them of pins and needles. “What are we waiting for then? Let’s go.”
He passed Ryan and opened the hatch again. It was freezing outside and the wind whipped at him. After Ryan heaved the storage carriage closed, Fenix wasted no time climbing the railing toward the gangway of the passenger compartments. Climbing down the ladder to the metal bridge, he looked through the window and pulled back when seeing figures moving inside.
Ryan followed after him, landing loudly. Fenix pulled him back against the outer carriage wall and peered through the window again.
“What?” Ryan groaned.
“You said it was empty before, right?” Fenix hissed.
“Well, it’s not now.”
“Diran operatives,” Fenix growled. “They must have gotten in after you broke open the door.”
Ryan scoffed. “Do you really reckon they could have crept in the time it took me to get back?”
“You said it yourself, there’s no other way you could have gotten in if you hadn’t broken the lock, right?”
Ryan shook his head. “Trying to find out who’s at fault can wait for later. What are we going to do?”
“Well, you let them in there so you get them out again.”
“Wha… but there’s at least six of them!”
Fenix’s expression didn’t change. Ryan eventually surrendered to his impenetrable glare. He was his commanding officer, after all.
“Fine. But you know this is suicide.”
“You’re a better shot than me, Ryan. Get in, shoot, and get out. I’ll be your backup.”
Ryan nodded, pulled the pistol from its holster and heaved the sliding door open. Fenix sighed, hearing two shots followed by a grunt of pain. He peered around the door to see Ryan on his knees with his hands behind his head. Also on the floor was a man holding a shoulder wound.
“Son of a bitch!” the man cried.
There were no more gunshots, only muffled words. It appeared they preferred to take hostages than kill any enemy on board, particularly considering that only they knew where the goods on the train were kept.
“There’s another one out on the gangway!” one of them called and Fenix stiffened. “Come out with your hands up.”
Fenix moved into the passenger compartment but did not raise his hands. The wind that whipped at his dark hair and coat was suddenly blocked by the walls of the carriage. He appeared around the black-clad operatives. All wore black, carried military assault rifles, their faces covered, and they surrounded Ryan with their weapons pointed at him.
“Are you deaf?” the same operative shouted and walked around Ryan to get closer. “I said… hands… up!”
He pulled back his rifle to club him with the butt. Before it could connect, Fenix tilted. A pulse of wind from outside rushed into to the compartment and hit the man square in the face. Fenix ducked, pulled out his own gun and shot him in the thigh. The man wailed in pain and dropped to one knee. Fenix kicked him in the face and watched as the other operatives pointed their rifles at him.
“What are you…?”
Fenix grinned. “That wasn’t luck!”
He ducked just before they fired, and completely against the natural movement of the air around the train, another powerful gust of wind blew in through the open back door. The air pressure in the room shifted with the sound of each gunshot, stopping and diverging the bullets. Crouching low, Fenix waited for the pressure to shift once more and then discharged his own gun. Like the first operative, each of his bullets hit them in the thigh.
“Ryan, disarm them!” Fenix shouted as he rushed in, grabbing gun arms and kicking their wounds.
Breaking from his sudden trance as they dropped around him, Ryan went about slamming faces into the compartment floor, ridding them of their weapons while Fenix kept watch. Only one of them put up a fight, trying to aim his rifle in one hand while clutching his bloody leg with the other. Fenix put a bullet in his other thigh for good measure.
“Let that be a lesson. You were planning on keeping us prisoners, right?” Fenix stood and holstered his weapon and Ryan disarmed the last one. “It’s only fitting, seeming as we won, that we do the same to you.”
They stripped them and bound them, taking them into the same storage carriage they had been in. However, before leaving, Fenix made sure to grab the large-handled tubular suitcase in the corner of the room where he had been sitting. Even he didn’t know what was inside it, but it was his mission to take it from Tangier to the island of Linth without having it damaged. It was only the first day of their mission and they had already been attacked. It was going to be no easy task.
“Alright, just how the hell did you do that?” Ryan asked as Fenix moved into the passenger compartment with the case.
Fenix grinned. “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t you…” Ryan growled. “We were in an impossible situation back there. You know that as well as I do!”
“The odds that the wind would blow into to the train like that, despite the way the way the train is heading, and somehow blow in the exact direction you needed in order to survive the fight… that was crazy!”
Fenix sighed, walked down the aisle, and picked one of the cushioned seats to sit down on. They were comfortable and he thought he might be able to get some shut-eye now.
“So?” Ryan cried, sounding desperate.
“Calm down,” Fenix intoned. “You sound like you believe I can control the wind or something.”
Ryan moved to his side, eyes wide. “Can you?”
“Don’t be ridiculous… if I could do that I would be like a god or something.” He yawned and turned to face the window. “It just helps me out sometimes when I’m in a sticky situation is all. I have no idea how it works.”
Still looking stunned, Ryan leaned against the arm of the opposite chair. “You’re kidding… Why?”
Fenix didn’t respond. In fact, he could already feel himself drifting off to sleep.