Prologue || United


The cold wind whipped through his hair as he accelerated his Porsche through the streets of LA. It was a Tuesday evening and the traffic favoured him. He couldn't afford to be late tonight. They were going to be assigned a mission after so long and he was dying to be back with the others.

As he crossed North Croft Avenue, Atlas looked at his watch. 9:40 pm. The message had said 10pm.

"Better speed up".

It wasn't until 9:50 that he finally reached. Arnold's house was a Victorian mansion. There was a driveway leading up to the main house. The house had eight bedrooms, an underground bunker, an ammunition room filled with all they would ever need, and state-of-the-art security. The house was Arnold's most prized possession.

Atlas drove the car up the driveway and stopped right in front of the steps leading to the foyer. He got out of his car as the valet politely bowed, taking it away to the garage. Atlas nodded at him and walked towards the door.

"Good evening Mr. Cage", said Jeffrey, Arnold's trusted butler. Jeffrey had been with Arnold even before Atlas had met him and knew everything about the business they were involved in.

"The others?"

"In the bar, sir. All awaiting your arrival."

Atlas took the stairs leading to the second floor, two at a time. He could hear the music from the bar getting louder with each step he took. It was “Don't You Cry Tonight” by Guns N' Roses. Typical Arnold. Atlas first met Arnold at a job interview which they both didn't clear. Arnold was listening to music from the 90s on his iPod in the waiting room of the office and it was that which sparked a conversation between them. Some things never change.

As Atlas walked into the bar he saw the whole team sitting around the round table with a phone having a secure line in the centre. He hadn't seen all five of them together for so long, that he took a moment to look at all of them once again.

There was Arnold, who was the leader of United and who was mostly the brains of the team. Then there was James, he had joined them only two years back but now had a really close bond with Atlas. Then there were Nathaniel and Spencer. Cousins who loved nothing more than spraying their weapons on whoever they were paid to kill. Finally, there was Stephen. He was Arnold's school buddy and was the most experienced when it came to the technical stuff.

"Atlas!", greeted Stephen calling him to the table.

Atlas smiled and came to the table sitting between Nathaniel and James.

"Somehow on time",said James smiling

"Hard for me to believe too"

"Vodka?", asked Nathaniel.

"Straight up."

Atlas turned towards Arnold who was deep in thought looking at the phone while the others talked around him. Atlas was about to talk to him but he reminded himself that it was better to let him do his thinking. After all, in the end it's these plans of his which pop up in his head while the rest are drunk that have saved their lives on countless occasions.

Atlas looked at the watch. They should be getting the call anytime now. Just as Spencer handed him his vodka the phone began to ring. Stephen got up and turned off the music and almost on cue Arnold picked up the phone.

"Is this United?". It was a hoarse and deep voice that spoke now. The person was probably using a voice enhancer.

"Yes it is",said Arnold.

"I have a mission for your team. Ten million on the line. Three million will be transferred to you as soon as you accept the task with the other details and the rest after the job is done."

Nathaniel wheezed. This was a huge one.

"So what's the job?", continued Arnold.

"I want your team to take out a well known politician. His support is increasing at a staggering rate and the competition wants him out"

"Who is it?"

"Jonathan Foster".

There was dead silence in the room. Jonathan Foster was one of the most high profile politicians of the city. Not only was he a favoured candidate for the presidential race but also was a very close friend of the current president as well. Planning an attack on someone as heavily guarded as him would be a nightmare. This would be very risky. But then there was the ten million. Arnold looked around at everyone. Everyone knew what was at stake here. But each one of them nodded.

"So?", said the caller.

"We're in", replied Arnold.

Atlas smiled. They were back in business.

Author: Manas Butalia

Editor: Zoyah Virani

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