“No way, D, no fucking way.”
“Yes way, Wendy, yes… um, flipping way.”
I took another look at the picture.
The tops of heads. Men. More than I could reasonably guess. With the suits they were all wearing, and with the situation being what it was, and everything Dong-Yul had been espousing, the context clues made me think mercenaries.
They were gathered, different groups of them sitting at different tables in what looked like a large waiting room. The colors of the wall and floor, and some of the decor, brought to mind the club we were in right now.
The angle of the picture itself stood out to me. For one, I could mostly see the tops of their heads and their shoulders, and there were thin, blurry lines that ran down the length of the image.
From above, behind some bars. Where did she take this from?
But, looking closer, none of them seemed particularly ready to jump the gun, and many of them were in the middle of having drinks, conversing, or just taking it easy. If I had to deal with them, I had some time.
But, they were there, they were in uniform, and they would be a problem.
“Is that what I think it is?” I asked, still looking at the picture.
“It is,” D said.
“Okay,” I said, before a brief pause. “Is this going to be my problem?”
“It’s going to be everyone’s problem if we don’t take care of it.”
“What I mean is, is it going to be my problem to solve?”
D patted me on the shoulder, her hand reaching over her head to get me.
“There, there, you’ll be fine.”
I grunted, starting to unzip the bag that D handed over. My bag. My costume.
“Wait, I’m just kidding, of course I‘m going to help. Geez. You overachiever.”
I looked over the contents of my bag, checking and double-checking that everything was there. And it had better be, I gave her everything before we left.
Maybe I was being too clingy with my stuff, or even attaching too much sentiment to material things, but knowing my mask and hood and knife were all accounted for, made me feel a little more at ease. It made me feel like I could take on anything.
I zipped it up partway, so nothing would spill out.
“Okay,” I said. “If you’re going to help-”
“-then I need as many details as possible. I don’t want to go into this blind.”
“I know you don’t, which was why I did as much as I could before you came by here, and I got some stuff ready beforehand. If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do this right.”
I liked the sound of that.
“I like the sound of that,” I said, “What do you have?”
“To be more or less accurate, there isn’t like, a hundred guys in there, there’s probably about forty, maybe fifty, but I tried to get as many people in the shot as possible, and that’s just me being zealous, I’d rather overestimate than underprepare. But yes, fifty would be my best guess.”
After a pause, D then added, “More or less.”
“Somehow, even with you cutting that number down by half, it still doesn’t make it any easier,” I commented.
“We should be fine.”
D gestured with her tablet, as if she was waving me away.
“The beauty of this is we don’t have to beat all of them up, or hurt them in any lasting way. We just… need to keep them occupied until Dong-Yul needs them, and they don’t show.”
“You call that beauty?” I asked.
“There’s an art to chaos,” D answered, “I find it very appealing.”
I was about to comment further, but there wasn’t any time to discuss other things. We were on the clock.
I moved the tablet back, so I could a better look at it again.
“And where are all of these guys?” I asked, realizing that I hadn’t gotten that yet. That should have been the first, if not the second, maybe third, thing to be clear on. Maybe aside from an exact number, but we could be a tad flexible on that.
We couldn’t do anything about the mercenaries if we didn’t know where they were.
“There’s a bottom level of the club. What Dong-Yul didn’t make clear is that he owns the place, or rather, his brother did. It’s a decent headquarters for the Kung Fools, or the Hóngshuǐ, now that they’ve rebranded. Forty or fifty dudes, more or less, all hanging around a few stories below our feet.”
I let go D’s wrist, giving the tablet back to her.
“Any guesses as to what they’re doing here, and what Dong-Yul needs them for?” I asked.
“No guesses needed, you even heard it yourself. Using his surplus of recruits, gathering numbers. He’s preparing for a war, and to do that, he’s building an army.”
“What does that have to do with us, and why they’re here at the Gonnishi?”
“Because Dong-Yul doesn’t actually intend to make any friends. Especially with us.”
I could have laughed, but I didn’t want to make too much noise. I was spending too much time in the restroom as it was, getting briefed on the situation.
“He isn’t, of course he isn’t. He thinks he can lead us into a trap?”
“Looks like. It’s for very different reasons, but, like him, our gang has been growing pretty quickly, too. We’ve both been getting a lot of attention, making waves, as they say. So, what happens if two hot rookies are pitted against each other?”
“The winner gets the combined hype of both,” I said. “They get momentum.”
“Exactly. Which gives him more clout to do… whatever it is he wants to do. And, considering the rhetoric, it’s probably not very good.”
“Probably. What good does he think he’ll accomplish with a war, though?”
“Maybe he doesn’t want to do any good. Maybe he just wants to watch the world drown. Hóngshuǐ does mean flood, in case you didn’t know, but you probably did.”
I raised my chin, feeling compelled to wrap my head around that.
It was hard, trying to make sense of Dong-Yul and his actions. His attire, his attitude, the girls, the fact his gang’s name was in Chinese, structured like it wanted to be a triad, yet he owned a Japanese club and restaurant, all while having adopted a Korean name.
The whole setup of it felt all over the place, scatterbrained, cultures blending and mixing in a way that seemed forced, pushed to fit a vision of someone who might not understand what they were getting themselves, and others, into. He wasn’t even one to get his hands dirty.
And, apparently, according to Lawrence and Jess and Tiffany, there used to not even be a Dong-Yul. It was Donnie. Something had to have happened.
I shook my head.
But, I didn’t necessarily need to understand that, understand him. He just needed to be stopped.
“We can’t have floods,” I said. “Kind of puts a damper on what we’re trying to do.”
“A little bit,” D said, with a sly look in her eyes.
“Alright, then let’s get on with it, I actually don’t want to hang around a restroom and just talk.”
“Why not? It’s private, it’s clean, relatively. Can’t find a better place to converse up in da club.”
With a finger, I tapped D on the forehead. She made a noise, closing her eyes as a reflex.
“Focus,” I told her. “What’s the plan? You said we keep them occupied? How?”
D rubbed her forehead as she answered, “Mm, we distract. During dinner, Dong-Yul is going to want to play that card and sweep the rug under us, calling those men into the restaurant and overwhelm with numbers. He’d reveal his true colors, then. Dong-Yul might wait until you get back, but since you will be invariably taking your time, he might just go and rush it, or I can have Lawrence push harder with any negotiations and force Dong-Yul’s hand. Either way, we need to make sure he thinks he still has the upper hand, but in reality, we’re sweeping the rug from under him.”
“Conniving, but it can work. Give me more details.”
“Oh, the details are the best part, Wendy. I’ll go back up where I came from, through the ceiling. Access is somewhat limited, but I can get to what it matters. Like where the power comes from, for one. I can get in there and really start messing with some stuff.”
“And me? How am I getting down to the bottom levels?”
“The back lounge area that you just passed has two elevators. It’s employee access only, but I already went ahead and nabbed a key for you. It’s here, in your bag.”
D touched the side of my bag, the one pocket I hadn’t checked yet.
“What you do is call both elevators, but only get into the one on the left. That’s like, super important. Then, you’ll be going through there as Wendy, but you’re leaving as Vivi.”
“Is that going to work?” I questioned. “What about cameras, or the fact I’ll be immediately boxed in once those doors open again?”
“No need to worry. Power flows through the building in sections, meaning I can isolate certain chunks of the building from one another. By floor, elevator, and room. It’s a quirk in the design of the club. And we’ll be using, or abusing, every bit of that quirk to pull this off.”
“So I call both elevators, but only get into the left one…” I started.
“And I’ll have to shut power to the camera room to let you change. Wait for my text for the go-ahead to do that. And make sure you have your earpiece on after so we can coordinate from there.”
“Roger,” I said, musing. It felt like a ‘D thing’ to respond with.
“And then, the elevator itself. You’ll have to drop down the rest of the way to make it to the bottom. I hope you’re okay with that.”
“I’ll deal,” I said. “Large drops don’t faze me much, you know that.”
“Sweet, just making sure. And you’ll need to open the elevator doors at the bottom, yourself. Just so you know.”
“Sweet sweet. Next would be the floor. I can’t mess with the power too much for too long, otherwise people will get onto us faster, but by the time you get those doors open, all power and lights and such to that floor should be cut. Then you do your thing.”
“Fuck them up like I did EZ and Krown?” I suggested, joking.
D huffed air out of her nose. “Maybe a notch or two shy of that.”
“We have an exit strategy?”
“Yeah, back the way you came. I can work on covering our tracks the best I can. I’ll let you know when you’re good to pull back. If we do this right, they will never know what hit them.”
“Man, this sounds crazy, but it might actually work.”
“It is crazy, I had to cobble this together on the fly. But that’s fine. Thankfully, we’re able to play this pretty loosely, by ear, so we have room to switch things around and improvise if we have to. As long as Dong-Yul isn’t able to do what he had planned to do, we’re good.”
“Sounds solid to me,” I said. “Elevators. Costume. Fuck them up from the shadows.”
“You got it, Voss.”
D slipped her tablet between her arm and her side, holding it there, while passing me to get closer to the toilet.
“If you keep your head straight and act like you know where you’re going, you should get to the elevators A-okay. That’s honestly the hardest part. Everything else should come naturally.”
Naturally. That word stuck out to me with a certain melancholy. And I couldn’t exactly place why.
“And Lawrence?” I asked.
“I’ll text him to keep him in the loop. If this goes well, he shouldn’t be in any danger at all. He’s a fighter, so he can hold his own in the meantime.”
D set the toilet seat and cover down with her foot, propping herself on top of it.
“Help me up?”
“Sure,” I said, moving.
Getting closer, I put my hands out for her to use as a foothold. She stepped, and I used my strength to lift her, almost tossing her up to the ceiling. She moved the panel and got through before she could bump her head.
“Arigatou,” D said. She fumbled around, and turned back so she was facing me again, like she was before she dropped down. Shadows obscured parts of her face.
“I’ll be off. Wait for my text in about… five minutes?”
“Five minutes,” I repeated.
“Hey,” I added, thinking. The lines going down the image. How she was getting around in the first place.
“How did you even get that shot, anyways?”
“What shot? The picture of the dudes I showed you?”
“Air vents that lead around the building, duh.”
“Don’t they make those too small to get through, even for kids?”
“They actually made them wider here, they have a lot of smoke they need to vent out. Weed, cigarettes, those weird scent machines that periodically spray stuff to make people feel good. Hotels have it too. It’s still a bit of a squeeze.”
I felt a pang of concern.
“That can’t be good for you,” I said.
“It’s not that bad, as long as I suck in my gut, I can fit anywhere.”
I looked at her, eyebrow up.
“That’s not what I meant. Being up in those things while they’re circulating out so much shit, that can’t be healthy.”
I saw D fumble about again. She removed a clump of cloth and unfurled it, dangling it from a strap.
She set it around her ears, covering her mouth, muffling her voice.
“Don’t sweat it, I use protection.”
I ignored her phrasing.
“Just don’t get stuck in there,” I said.
“I won’t, I’ll be in and out,” D said. “Like a ninja.”
I exhaled the word. “Ninja, right.”
It fit, with D’s sense of humor, and the fact we were in a Japanese-themed nightclub, about to take on fifty mercenaries, more or less.
Maybe I could laugh about it later. But not now.
“Alright little ninja,” I said. “Let’s do this.”
“Stay safe,” I said, but D’s face had already disappeared into the dark. She probably missed it.
I did more searching through my bag, finding, and taking out the employee card D had slipped into the side. I moved it from the bag to my pocket.
Zipping the bag back up, and putting it around my shoulder, I finally left the restroom.
The air was clearer as I stepped out, but it was only relative. The faint traces of sweat and flavored smoke filled my nose as I went down the hall, taking a turn that took me away from the restaurant.
I found myself in the lounge.
Different, from the one at the Lunar Tower, but only in aesthetic and atmosphere. The lighting was moody, dim, and the walls were dark, the edges of the tables and the bar were fuzzy with a neon glow. People were lazing around in some drug-induced haze, either by a drink or something smoked. The music had a heavy bass and bounce to it, the hi-hats stuttering.
It gave me a strong, strange sense of déjà vu, not because I was in another lounge, on my way to take care of another gang, but this atmosphere, this aesthetic. Like I had been at this kind of scene before…
No. I knew the time, it wasn’t midnight yet. I discarded the fleeting thought and moved on.
The lounge wasn’t full or cramped like what I had seen on the dance floor. People probably paid top dollar to enjoy themselves up here, above everyone else, so there was some exclusivity, in the lounge and the restaurant. Walking across the area, with purpose, no one paid me any mind.
I used what I had learned at the Lunar, how to blend into the background, how to act like I belonged.
I reached the elevators.
I saw a reader for the card, by the buttons. I got the card ready, and swiped without missing a beat.
I pressed to call both.
The elevators beeped, the doors sliding open.
I got into the one of the left, the doors sliding closed. I kept my head low and my face hidden.
That wasn’t hard at all.
I checked my phone, waiting for a text from D.
It didn’t take long for it to come.
Camera’s down. Change.
I went quick, taking everything out first before putting on just what I needed. The essentials. Mask, outer layer, gloves, knife. Hood up. I wouldn’t have time to change to my proper pants or thermals. But if we only needed to provide a distraction, then I was ready.
I had finished changing.
Responding to D’s text, I put the earpiece in last.
The call came in.
“Hear me, Vivi?”
“Loud and clear,” I replied.
“Nice. Hit the button that says B-Three.”
I found the button. I hit it.
The elevator started moving.
“Do you see the door to get out from the top?”
I looked up, searching.
“There, in the corner.”
“You’re going to need pull the latch to get it open, and make sure to close it behind you. I won’t be able to keep power away from the cameras and elevator forever, so in case someone else needs to use the elevator, it’ll be there for them, and that means less suspicion.”
I watched as the glowing numbers ticked down. I passed the first floor, getting to B-One.
Thinking of it as a timer, it did make me a little nervous. Just a little.
The elevator shuddered to a halt before going down another level.
“And… There you go, power’s knocked out on the elevator. Same should be for the bottom level once you get to it.”
“Should be?” I asked.
Without any other words, I got moving.
The space inside the elevator was rather expansive, enough to fit a crowd if it had to. It took a few hops, but I was able to undo the latch, and with two more hops, I pushed the door open, clanging, and I got out of the elevator box from the top.
What immediately got my attention was the echo, and the pitch blackness of the chasm I was in. The elevator shaft was as long as it was dark.
Upon being greeted by the cold air, I immediately understood why D wanted me to bring up both elevators. Both elevators needed to be called up so I could have clearance to drop down once I was lowered enough. If I hadn’t, then I’d jump and get stuck, partway through. Then I would be fucked.
It was a good thing D knew to account for something like that.
The fact that she was so capable, it was kind of creepy, the more I thought about it.
I tried not to think about it.
I dropped down, feeling a split second of the jitters when the fall lasted just a second longer than it should have.
I landed, a thud echoing up and down the elevator shaft.
“Here,” I said, hushed, the sound still carrying.
“And… done. Power’s cut for that whole floor.”
I put my hands on the doors. I could hear the panic and confusing rising from the other side.
There were a lot of people on the other side of these doors.
“And if they try to communicate with Dong-Yul?” I asked.
“Doesn’t really matter. They’ll all be down there with you so it’s not like Dong-Yul will be able to do anything about it. Now go, I’ll keep you updated on my end. Do your thing. Operation Floodgate is in effect!”
“Thank you,” I said. “I really do appreciate it.”
There was a stutter at D’s end. A connection issue from being in the elevator shaft?
“And… I did hear you, by the way. You stay safe too.”
It was such a small thing, but that gave me enough assurance that I could do this on my own. By myself.
I let the sounds of their panicking flow through me as I wiggled my fingers between the cracks of the doors. It turned into a thrill as I threw the doors open.
I rushed into the gloom, and began my ambush.
I pushed into the first person my arms fell into. He tumbled in an instant, and the force I used was enough to knock down others as he tried to grab anything in reach for purchase. They fell like dominoes.
I jumped, to get my bearings and distance. I used the few seconds I was airborne to get a scan of the room.
The layout was similar to the lounge area above. Round tables placed about, a private bar area that wasn’t manned, but open for everyone who was allowed to be in here. There was a set of lockers on the opposite side of the room, long, some open. I saw the weapons that were placed and displayed within. Guns and models of stuff I hadn’t learned the names of yet.
I took note of any doors and exits, anything they might use as a means of escape and getting help.
I couldn’t let anyone get closer to the lockers or the exits.
Another scan… Fifty suits. Seemed about right. More or less.
I began to descend, and I put my feet out, preparing to get a kick in before I could touch ground.
My feet crashed into someone’s face, and they crashed into more people. The chain reaction that followed to several more out of commission.
Was it too early to think that this was going well? Because it was.
No one could see me, and everyone was confused as to what was happening. It was just chaos, pandemonium. I kept myself shrouded in the dark, keeping quiet as everyone else screamed and shouted for anything that could help them understand, but there wouldn’t be anybody that could offer any help.
I was causing terror, doing quick damage.
Wild, in a frenzy, someone started swinging, arms flailing. I ducked, getting out of the way, swinging at him when I found the chance. It connected, and he flung across the length of the room, making a heap of those he slammed down into.
Close to one of the exits.
Hurrying, I leapt over the crowd to get over to that side.
I struck again as I landed, hitting someone square across the jaw. Maybe the same person I had sent flying, earlier. My arm extended to its full length, and I felt something give.
Not me, someone else.
I probably just broke someone’s jaw.
A smack to the back of my head, forcing me to stumble in another direction. The angle was awkward, and I would have tripped if I didn’t grab for the edge of a table.
I righted myself, and jabbed, striking one of the mercenaries right in his ribs. I felt something give there, too.
A howl, and he fell over.
Dammit. I almost lost myself in the moment. Getting too swept up in the disarray and disorder of everything. I couldn’t let myself drift, or someone could get a lucky shot it.
Throwing my arms out, pushing and shoving, I tore through the crowd, hurting more to debilitate than anything lasting. As long as they were out of the picture, as long as they were distracted, and as long as Dong-Yul was unable to get any use of these mercenaries.
Maybe mercenaries isn’t the right word, I thought, as I backhanded a man into a group of his friends, one of them splitting their chin at the end of a counter. They were more like glorified volunteers.
I had to ease off on the action, hold myself back. One reason why, even though I had my knife at the ready, I wasn’t going for it right away. It didn’t need to get any worse.
“D,” I said, over the continued confusion. I kept moving towards the nearest exit, tossing anyone who even had the thought of leaving.
“Any other tricks up your sleeves? It won’t be long until someone does get out of here, I can’t keep it contained to here forever.”
“I was working on that. Let me see… here!”
I heard a series of hard clicks, scattered across the ceiling.
I heard a series of hard taps, pattered down on my hood.
Using my shoulder, I shoved one suit into another, causing yet another chain reaction. Doing it like this, attacking from the dark and taking advantage of everyone being discombobulated. Unless I jumped, I wasn’t allowed much leg room to kick, but shoving people around was getting the job done. I’d stick with that strategy until the circumstances changed.
People fell, and they slipped as they tried to scramble back up. The floor was collecting water in some places. It was working.
Have to watch my step, too.
I made my way over to the closest exit, clawing my way through. I saw a thin line of light as someone cracked the door open.
I grabbed his arm, twisting it. The line disappeared. I threw my arm back, and him with it.
Putting my hands on the metal bar, I pulled the handle off the door.
A blunt hit right between my shoulder blades. It was more the weight of the hit than the actual pain that caused me to slam into the door, cheek pressed up on the metal surface.
I could feel hands trying to get at me, reaching and pulling for the hood and flowing sides of the poncho of my costume. They’d snag a hold, but it wouldn’t last, their grip slipping away. Was it the water, making me harder to pin down?
With the metal handle still in my hands, I pressed it back on the door, and I hopped, bringing my feet up as well. With a kick, I sent myself flying back. The door didn’t crack open.
Sending my full weight behind me, I shoved the portion of the crowd back. They collapsed and landed in a pile, with me at the top.
I stepped over bodies, heads and hands to climb out of the pile and get back on my feet.
I jumped to reach another part of the room. The tapping of water momentarily got stronger when I got closer to the sprinklers above.
Crowd control. Had to keep everyone inside, and everyone occupied, for as long as possible.
I underestimated the strength of my jump, my shoulder bumping into a locker to stop myself.
A group of suits had the dumb idea to grab for some guns. Couldn’t let that happen.
One of them grabbed for a rifle, hanging from an open locker. I put both hands on the metal handle I had gotten from the door.
I swung down, hitting an arm. Another underestimation, another howl. He recoiled, hugging his arms close and collapsing to his knees.
More people with the same dumb idea. I hit them with the door handle so they could reconsider.
Being in the dark, with so many people and so many things happening all at once, it would be so stupid to grab for a gun and start firing in here. People wouldn’t shoot if it meant friendly fire.
I swung again, and I was blocked.
A man in a suit, towering over me, using the gun as a blunt weapon.
He tried to fight me on this.
Pressing his arms, and the gun, down, he tried to overpower me and get me to heel. I could see the veins on his face and neck, I could see the effort.
My makeshift weapon was locked with his manufactured killing machine.
A light thrust. That was all it took to get him off of me and onto his ass.
I did one more sweep of the lockers, closing each one I came across, kicking other guns under counters and tables to prevent any searching hands from getting lucky.
There. That was one problem literally swept away. It would have to do.
What more could I do? There had to be something.
“D,” I said. “How is it on your end? And Lawrence?”
It took a moment before I heard anything from her. I had to get back at working on crowd control while I waited.
Then came her reply.
“Hold on, hold on!”
“D…” I said, huffing out the name. My focus was split between trying to talk and trying to fight.
“I’m not at that room right now! They, I, it’s gotten a little complicated!”
A little complicated?
I wanted to press for more info, but the amount of energy I was exerting was beginning to take a toll. I wasn’t getting too tired, but I was feeling like I had just completed the first significant stretch of a marathon. I couldn’t talk at the moment, but I could exhale out the words if I really wanted to.
“Shoot, they’re here, crap crap crap!”
I was worried to have to hear her cries for help, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I wanted to go up there and get her, but I still had a job to do, here.
I lunged, kicking. Several more people dropped at the wake of my hit.
“Yeah uh okay this isn’t working Vivi get ready I’m heading-”
I couldn’t hear the last part.
What I did hear was much, much louder.
Snapping, cracking, stuff crumbling out of place. The ceiling gave way at one part, leaving a hole where something broke through into the room.
There was a short pause in the action, as people tried, and failed, to make sense of anything that was happening.
“V!” I heard from both the earpiece, and in that momentary pause. From across the room.
Across the room, with about fifty people between us, thirty or forty of them still standing. I had to get over there.
Getting there, and crowd control. I could do both at the same time.
I went to work.
I lashed out, swinging with the metal bar, going for limbs, making them fall. Breaking bones, if I had to. I just needed get to D.
Watching my footing, I walked over fallen mercs, hurting and whining over the various injuries I had given them.
I brought another foot-
Being in the crush of bodies, I felt a wave of movement. I almost tripped, if not for someone being right next to me.
People were pushing into me.
Maybe they were finally getting their bearings, coordinating with one another. Maybe they were finally catching on.
I can’t let them.
Powering through, I fought against the current, grabbing a hold of anything I could use-
I saw a fist coming at me. I didn’t have the room to dodge.
I threw the metal bar.
It hit him across the head, I heard a clang, and dropped limp onto a nearby table.
Anything I could use.
I grabbed edge of the table. It was round, so I had to bring out my arms to get a better grip on it.
People had gotten up on some of the tables, trying to get a better vantage point to see everything, despite how black it was. Some even managed to get out a phone or flashlight to try and find an answer.
The table turned, leaving the ground, and I flipped them off, back into the gloom.
I waved the table like I would a fan, if the fan was large, circular, and wooden. I swung it at people, literally swatting at them like flies. People scattered, clearing a path for me.
I threw the table, and it crashed into a corner of the room. Maybe it hit someone, maybe it didn’t.
I saw D.
She was being held up by another guy, picking her up by a headlock, properly restraining her. D tried to kick, but her legs only struck the air in front of her. Struggling, but it’d be useless.
I drew out my knife.
Without any real thought, just instinct, I sprinted forward. And with just a light spring in my step, I was going through the air.
I went over the man that had D, grabbing him by the hair. He tumbled back when I hit ground again.
I was on the floor, and him with me. Just him. D was free.
I stabbed with my knife. Arms and legs.
Didn’t care about inflicted pain, didn’t care about the screaming.
I kept going until he no longer-
Hands grabbed at me, pulling me back. I turned back and raised my arm to-
It was D.
She put her hands to my face, squishing my cheeks together. The sprinkling water made her hair stick to her face and forehead. Her clothes were damp.
“I’m not worth going that far for,” she said.
I blinked, water seeping into my mask, wanting to argue.
I didn’t get the chance to argue.
“So… plan’s changed,” D said. “Any ideas on how to get us out of here?”
I didn’t have any.
“That’s alright. We’ll stick to what we can control, let’s have you focus on-”
D didn’t get the chance to finish.
The lights cut back on, the sprinklers turning off.
I squinted, having to readjust.
This was not ideal.
I no longer had the dark to hide in, the shadows now too small to make useful. I was out in the open, and very visible.
I was able to assess part of the damage I had done.
About half of the glorified volunteers were down and out. The rest were huddled into groups of two or three, helping each other up, or trying not to slip with the floor being as wet as it was. Some did slip, only adding to the number of those who were out of commission.
There was still a sizable amount of those who were not, though. And they all had their sights on me, now.
I shifted, keeping low, head down, using part of my poncho to conceal D and keep her close.
“Change of plans, huh?” I murmured to D.
She didn’t respond.
I fidgeted, feeling for my knife, making sure I had it in hand. If I made the first move, now, I could still catch a few more by surprise.
I made the first-
An elevator made a ding.
Everyone had turned, so disoriented that any external stimuli could override their attention and focus.
I turned as well.
The doors opened.
“Oh flip me,” D said.
A man got out of the elevators, clapping. Biker’s attire, leather jacket, skinny jeans. All black, from skin to clothes.
More men filed out of the elevator. They were dressed in a similar style. As far as the gangs represented, they outnumbered us, but the glorified volunteers had them beat.
But only one group had the swagger to move about here, now.
They lined up around the perimeter of the room, and a few feet or paces across, until they had the whole lounge filled out.
The man was still clapping.
From behind him, Lawrence and Dong-Yul walked out, hand in hand. Neither of them seemed particularly pleased to be doing so. They stopped, still behind the still-clapping man.
D and I had control of the situation, earlier, and now I was brought down to the same level as those volunteers.
I had never seen the man before, not personally, but with the group he brought in with him, the uniforms, two in particular standing out by a lot, I felt like I could accurately guess who this was. Who else could it have really been?
A grand entrance, and he had made everyone watch.
He finally stopped his clapping, and beamed, his teeth shining, too white and too bright. He spread his arms out even more.
“En garde,” Styx intoned.