On hearing no answer, they strained their ears for movement inside.
“If you hear screaming, that’s your cue,” she jokes to Blank, a little nervousness creeping into her voice.
Deciding that a lack of bravado would certainly be worse than rudeness in their current environment, Bo firmly pushes the door open and strides in. The pair are met by a small corridor, with a door to their left slightly ajar.
Peering through, they can see that there are several guards, as many as seven, patrolling the downstairs lobby. They decide to try the only other door, at the end of the hall, only to find it locked. Bo pulls her autopicker from her pack and gently inserts the device into the lock. There’s a series of whirring noises as it works before an ominous grinding sound begins to emanate from the lock. Her eyes widen and she twists the picker to try and disengage it before it breaks. Sheer luck grants her an unbroken picker. The duo stay motionless, breathing quickly as they wait to see if they’ve been heard.
No immediate sounds of movement reach them, so Bo inspects the picker and, finding it fit for purpose, attempts the lock again. This time a small snap is heard almost immediately. She stands back, holding her arm out in invitation for Thanatos to proceed. He lays his hand gently on the handle.
“Clear?” Thanatos whispers, hand pressed to his commlink.
“I’m not getting any readings. You’re good to move,” replies the voice of the Gentleman.
Thanatos only pulls open the door a fraction to peer through and assess the situation. Again there is only one other door which according to their plans should lead back to the same foyer on the left. In the room there is a single low table, a few chairs and a safe. His eyes light up as he pulls it open the rest of the way and ushers Bo through, closing it behind them. They begin searching the room somewhat but it’s not long before they hear the urgent voice of the Gentleman.
“Three bad guys, heading your way.”
Bo quietly exits immediately, back into the hall. Thanatos glances at the ceiling and for a split second considers his gecko gloves. Choosing not to push his luck he swiftly follows his companion and pushes the door almost all the way closed. This time he leaves a sliver of a gap, his eye locked on the other door as Bo retreats to observe the foyer.
Three burly men carrying AK assault rifles enter the room with the safe. They mutter something about the boss being unfair and not receiving a decent cut, but nothing of use is mentioned. Thanatos watches as they each drop a small red credstick on the table, grumble, and shuffle out of the room. He waves behind him to get Bo’s attention and whispers to her to grab them. He quickly pulls the door open again once they’re out of sight and Bo darts in, grabs the sticks and is back out by Thanatos in a flash. He pushes the door carefully closed again, and it shuts again silently.
As she does, they hear a deep thudding. Peering back through to the foyer they watch as a pair of heavy boots descend the staircase in view. An orc emerges, the arm of his biker jacket adorned with a patch symbolising his authority within the Halloweeners. The newcomer marches straight to the rear room.
“Is this a fucking joke?” he bellows. The three that had been there before look at each other perplexed. The orc enters the foyer once more, his features beginning to contort in rage. “Are you lot deaf as well as stupid? Where’s the money?”
“I-It’s right in there, boss,” one stutters, his eyes wides.
“We just dropped them off. They’re on the table,” another rushes to support his friend.
“So it’s me that’s fucking stupid, is it? Table’s empty, and you are taking the piss now,” he shouts, pointing at the trio.
Another set of heavy footsteps and the minions almost squeak, retreating to the far side and out of sight of the door. The latest gang member must come down the other staircase as the two inside are unable to see him.
“I don’t know who this guy is but there’s something strange about him. His heat signature is very unusual. He -”
The Gentleman is cut off by a cry for help. Blank glances worriedly through the back door but Bo signals to him that they’re fine. The room is filled by the horrible sounds of dull thudding as flesh is pounded into mincemeat.
“Would you like to try lying to me again?” Asks a deep voice, his accent heavily Mexican.
There is some babbling attempt at an explanation before another series of blows are rained down on the members of the group. Bo winces, a hand going to her stomach as it roils at the smell of blood and the gurgling noises coming from the next room. A moment of silence follows before the leader instructs the remaining group.
“Take them away, search them.” He demands. He snaps his fingers at the commander and the still fuming orc follow dutifully back up the stairs.
The last four members of the guard glance at each other nervously and grab the boots of their fallen comrades. They drag the bodies into the room with the safe.
“It looks like they’re searching them for the credsticks. The room to your left as you go in looks empty, but stick to the wall,” suggests the Gentleman.
Bo and Thanatos take a moment to check that the coast is clear before slipping through the door and into the foyer. They are now able to easily see the two ruined staircases reaching up to the first floor landing. Shadows pass over them as the patrol above moves in front of the meagre lights. To the front of the building they can see the door they tried initially, the heavy steel sealed shut by a metal bar across it.
Blood smears the floor where the bodies have been dragged, and there are dents in the walls where the first man went down. Again, Bo fights down the nausea and focuses on the task at hand.
There are three other doors from here – one to their far right, at the rear and behind the further staircase, one straight ahead, and one to their left. Taking his advice, they slip through the first door.
The room was once painted white but the walls have long since yellowed with age and smoke. The ceiling is a dark grey, and the single couch is ratty and stained. A single window allows some light into the room, but this is also completely boarded. A small unit sits in the corner, adorned with several vials of yellow liquid. An odd vapour seems to settle above it, beneath the cork sealing the solution inside. Neither Bo nor Thanatos recognise this, but it’s relatively safe to assume the substance is less than legal. Thanatos picks up a vial and puts it inside his jacket.
Near the unit is a large cardboard box containing several pieces of hardware.
“Any good to you, Gentleman?” Bo asks, knowing he can see through her contacts.
“Why yes, several of those pieces should be very helpful. That which is not, should sell for a reasonable price to the right people.”
Bo nods. “Okay, we come back for it later. Where to next?”
“They’ve not left the back room yet. You should be able to make it to that door on your far left. The one next to you is lit up like Christmas.”
Thanatos takes the lead, pushing the door open and moving around the wall.
“Blank, you can catch up. Get inside and wait for my mark.”
Blank moves silently forward and pauses by the same ajar door as before, whilst Thanatos and Bo reach the door. Unfortunately, to their dismay, they find it locked. Bo quickly pulls out her autopicker as Thanatos turns to watch their surroundings. Luckily the wall, balcony and staircase are offering good cover from all current patrols.
“They’re leaving! Blank move to the room on the left and get ready. This may be about to go loud. You two have to get inside, now,” he urges.
Blank hurries through and into the room they had vacated, ensuring to close the doors behind him. He readies his guns, ensuring he has full clips in each.
Thankfully the picker makes short work of the lock and Bo and Thanatos are able to get through and shut it as the sound of voices reach their ears. Taking a moment to collect themselves, they look around the new room. There is nothing in here except for a large, iron banded wooden chest with a robust looking lock. Bo cracks her fingers and gets to work. The lid is soon open and they find a large array of guns and grenades. The weapons have seen better days but they take advantage of their position, each swinging a rifle over the backs and taking several clips.
“Blank, do you know what these are?” Bo asks, examining the grenades carefully. As she picks one up she sees a grey bar below it that looks like a malleable plastic.
His voice crackles over the commlink, “The green one is definitely a frag grenade, but I don’t recognise the others. I would hazard a guess at being flashbangs or something. That bar will be a kind of explosive, I reckon.”
Thanatos shrugs and grabs it from her as her jaw falls open a little. “Don’t worry about being careful around the explosives,” she mocks, keeping her voice low. He just continues to add the other grenades and the bar to various pockets in his leather duster. Bo shakes her head in disbelief and looks back to the chest. She frowns as something odd catches her attention – there are scratch marks in the concrete beneath the chest, as if something extremely heavy had been dragged across it repeatedly. Her head snaps to the door as she hears a noise outside.
“They’re heading right to you,” a worried voice calls over. “Blank, are you set?”
“Affirmative,” replies the gunman, his hands tightening around the grips of his faithful guns and shifting his weight, feeling his muscles tense with adrenaline.
Bo casts another frightened glance over her shoulder before getting behind the chest and bracing her feet against the wall nearby. Seeing what she is doing, Thanatos joins her, and together they are able to shift the chest forward, the corners grating loudly through the grooves previously made. Not having time to think about it, Thanatos jumps down. He lands solidly, and although he makes barely a sound, it was not a soft one. A rocky corridor stretches out in front of him, with a large steel door at one end, not far away. Before that is a left turn, where a lot of light is streaming through.
Thanatos steps forward and Bo drops down behind him. He steps forward, holding his hand up to signal her to wait. He peers around the corner, seeing a small round table and five large men playing poker in the small space. As he does, a large troll looks his way and they lock eyes. A loud scrape echoes through the small cavern as he throws his chair back. Thanatos winces and pulls back, pressing himself to the stone wall as he tries to think of what to do.
“Who the fuck are you?” he growls, stepping forward and rounding the corner. His head almost grazes the ceiling of this underground passage, and the bulk of him nearly fills the width.
Thanatos puts a hand to his pocket and doesn’t give himself time to overthink his gut instinct. He pulls out the one Blank identified as a frag grenade, pulls the pin, and steps up to throw it around to his left. Fortune was smiling down as the projectile makes it around the troll, hits the wall and bounces into the middle of the table. There is a moment of stunned silence before all hell breaks loose.
Thanatos backs straight up, nearly bumping into Bo, as two more stooges exit the cavern and raise their guns. They open fire, the bullets barely missing. The small area causes a bottleneck, with the ones behind unable to move beyond those in front. Bo’s eyes widen and she immediately turns to scramble back up the ladder. She pulls herself out as another crack of a gun sounds and a grunt of pain follows. Thanatos rapidly climbs the ladder and Bo offers him her hand. His hand is pressed to his side, blood pooling between his fingers. She squeaks as the angry face of the troll appears below her and she tries to heave the chest back over the hole. It shifts slightly, but otherwise stubbornly refuses to move.
Thanatos heaves against it as well, but he is unable to gain purchase and in his weakened state is only able to get it most of the way over the top. He rolls to his knees and shields Bo as a deep boom sounds from the ground beneath them. The floor shakes, dust and debris falling from the ceiling. The hole covered by the chest has significantly widened, and it starts to slide, it’s corner already vanishing below. Not wanting the way to be blocked, Bo frantically grabs at it and is able to stop it’s descent.
“I do not know what you did, but they definitely heard that.”
Bo reaches for her pistol as Thanatos unsheathes his katana and they move into a defensive position. As they do that, they hear a sudden commotion outside.
Upon seeing the guards appearing to resume their patrol, the Gentleman racks his brain for a way to help. Then it comes to him. What they need, is a distraction. He puts a call through to the number the orc on duty outside had tried to contact. A gruff voice answers.
“¿Qué deseas?” he answers.
“We’re bein’ attacked!” he exclaims, imitating a more roguish accent.
“Where?” he barks.
“Out on the road!”
The Gentleman listens as he hears the lieutenant grumble and start issuing orders. Watching the monitors from his drones he sees a few of them start to move toward the front of the building. A wave of energy pulses under the ground suddenly, and everyone turns away.
He ends the call and connects to the team network. “I do not know what you did, but they definitely heard that.”
Quickly, he engages his lynx and sends the drone toward the building. It covers the distance in record speed. A few tricks, and the lynx opens fire, targeting the beast of a machine parked outside. He watches as again all the heat sources rush to the front of the building to peer out of the windows. The bullets of the drone tear through the chrome plating, and eventually rip through the fuel tank. The unexpected but inevitable explosion caused a wave of heat to expand outwards as the Trollhammer is engulfed in flames.
A roar of pain and rage fills the night as brickwork explodes outward from the first floor, a chrome fist now jutting through it. A heave and a chunk of the wall falls away as the leader jumps out of the building and lands crouched in the gravel. The dancing fire of his precious vehicle light the fury in his eyes as he turns a vengeful gaze upon the lynx. A surprised Gentleman snaps back to his senses and instructs the lynx to start running.
A hail of bullets fall from the windows as those still inside attempt to slay the attacker which has dared anger their boss. Another primal roar shatters the night and the cybered orc charges after the drone and vanishes into the plains to the south.
Thanatos and Bo stare at each other expressionless at the sounds around them. A loud explosion, crackling flame, splintering brick and furious cries.
Using the cover of the shots being fired from the front of the building, Thanatos and Blank burst from their positions simultaneously and start laying down fire. Thanatos’ blade shimmers in the moonlight as he slashes at his opponents, the bullets from Blank’s gun ripping holes through them. The four are barely able to get a single shot off in Blank’s direction before all of them fall.
Thanatos nods to the first staircase and Blank nods, raising his guns to cover the stairs as the elf advances upwards.
Bo watches them go and glance at the door on her right. Given the number of signatures the Gentleman had informed them of, it seemed unusual that no one had reacted, but she decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth. A quick look upstairs shows them effectively taking care of the gang members above them. What use would she be in combat anyway right?
Another glance between the door ahead and her team and she switches off her image link. Crouching low, she runs to the door leading to the first room she and Thanatos entered. She edges around the three bodies on the floor and bends to inspect the safe. A relatively simple thing. She cracks on, doing what she does best, and soon the door of the safe clicks open. Five red sticks lay inside. Eagerly, she snatches them up and heads back out. No one is in the foyer, and sounds of combat are still heavy upstairs. She switches on her image link again and scans the sight of the two fighters. They see to be handling themselves okay, but she places a foot on the stairs to lend a hand.
Until she remembers the deal. Her eyes flick to the door now on her left, thinking on the patch she saw on the troll’s arm. And the glint of steel she’d seen beyond him in the brief glance she’d gotten before having to retreat again. Instead, she heads back there and heaves the chest right out of the way. She carefully descends the ladder, glad she is wearing gloves. He stomach threatens to overturn this time at the sight of the blood dripping from the stone. Parts of different gang members are strewn around the corridor and the cavern was a mess of splintered bone, flesh, brain matter, and burnt clothing and wood. She covers her mouth and nose with one hand as she scans the area. Near the base of the ladder is a chunk of shoulder and part of an arm, the black jacket viciously torn and burnt. It’s a little scuffed, but the badge is luckily still mostly in tact. She grips the edges and tugs, able to rip it off, and places it in her pocket.
Moving onward, she finds that the steel door is one to some sort of vault, the big wheel a more difficult locking mechanism to crack. But not impossible. As blood is shed in the upper floors, Bo presses her ear to the vault door and listens to the symphony of tumblers. A few minutes pass and the door hisses quietly as it slides open. She rubs her hand in anticipation as with a great heave it slowly swings open. Her grin fades and she rolls her eyes when she sees that inside is another safe, much smaller than the first, behind a metal grate. Two more locks later and she is crouching before the cracked safe, revealing a small silver briefcase.
She gently takes the case out, holding the edges, and rests it on her lap. Checking the locks, she sees that it has been left open. Apparently they thought the locked door, hidden entry, band of thugs, two safes and barred gate would be enough. She flips the fastenings and carefully lifts the lid. Inside is an odd cylindrical object, a dark metallic grey. As she leans over to get a better look she notices her necklace straining toward it. A dull ache starts to throb in her ears and she slams the lid shut. She shakes her head to clear her mind and refastens the clips.
“I’ve got it,” she says, activating her commlink and alerting the others.
Generic fight scene!
Thanatos probably taking the commader’s entire arm in order to get his patch.
They turn as the hear hurried footsteps ascending the stair case, both raising their weapons. Bo immediately raises one hand, the other tightly gripping the handle of the briefcase.
“The ‘gift’?” asks Thanatos, and she nods with a smile. He returns it and stalks off into one of the other rooms. Seeing what he’s doing, she heads the opposite way and opens the first door on the right.
Bo finds a rather small bedroom; a short bed with rumpled sheets and belongings tipped everywhere. This room probably belonged to one of the late Halloweeners, and had clearly been searched. She gives it a cursory once over but unsurprisingly finds nothing.
Behind door number one, Thanatos finds some sort of storage room full of dusty cardboard boxes. Nothing interesting there. Moving swiftly, knowing their time was limited, he kicks open the door to the next room. A foul stench fills the hallway, and he covers his face with his arm. Peering over the leather he sees a chair in the middle of the room with metal straps. A table to the right is covering with various bloodstained instruments. Manacles hang from the centre of the ceiling, and dirt and old blood covers a lot of the surfaces. And soiled tarp is currently surrounding the chair but has done little to protect the aged floor. Hearing a door open behind him indicating Bo has moved on, he closes the door firmly and continues his search.
Can’t remember what was in the bottom left room.
Bo pushes open the second door on the right. This bedroom is a lot more grand in comparison. A large double bed fills most of the space, with a dresser and wardrobe tucked tightly in. She quickly starts rifling through the drawers, and in the top one, hidden under a fake panel, is a credstick and a very specialised pistol. Securing her gloves, she gingerly takes both. The credstick is straight in her pocket, whilst she takes a moment to admire the weapon.
Much like it’s owner, it is extravagant and plated in chrome. A small insignia is engraved on the side; a fist, apparently encased in metal. It’s fully loaded, and she tucks it into a holster at her hip.
“We do not have much more time. He is starting to grow bored of the drone, I fear.”
All three members pick up the pace, arriving at the final door at the same time. They push it open and come to a sudden stop. The room is full of people. They are wearing masks and lab coats, and are hunched over various tables as they go about their tasks. Blank, Thanatos and Bo hold their breath for a second before they realise no one is going to move. Bo approaches the nearest person and peers at their face.
The workers’ faces are expressionless, their eyes showing no sign of spark. The seem to shuffle between stations, completely unaware of even their most immediate surroundings.
“He’s on his way back!”
Bo grabs a few of the vials on a table at the back and catches sight of the bunsen burners. “We have to burn the place,” she points out.
“Optional extra,” Blank replies logically.
“But – " Bo tries to argue, thinking of the bonus nuyen.
He sighs and ushers her forwards. “The sheets will not be enough to catch this place. None of the walls are flammable, they would be difficult to catch.” She pouts a little but keep jogging. “Maybe plastic will do, though,” he offers.
Her eyes widen in shock. “There are still people in here!”
As they reach the foyer, Blank holds his hand out for the bar of explosive that Thanatos has, who hands it over readily, seeming relieved to be rid of it. “I’ll put it at the front so that only that part is destroyed. That plus the fun our hacker had with the bike should be enough to score us the extra bounty. Now, get back,” the gunman orders. Bo and Thanatos don’t need telling twice, although the elf does take a slight detour to grab the box of hardware.
They run into the road and sprint toward where the van is parked. It’s not long before they hear the Gentleman’s voice inform them that the lieutenant is about to enter the building. Seconds later, debris explodes from the right corner of the building, parts of the building crumbling inward until most of the structure has been destroyed.
Blank stills himself, remembering his training, as a hulking form rounds the corner. He sticks close to the wall, taking advantage of the heavy shadows around him. He sees now that the lieutenant is a huge orc, bald, with large tusks, dressed in the classic Halloween getup but with bare arms. One arm is obviously completely cybered and polished to a shiny chrome finish. The muscles on his other arm don’t look too weak either though, sporting a bold tattoo with a emblem of a fist encased in steel and the fist of that arm also shining in the low light. As it catches on his shoulder, Blank sees that an embossed copy of the same emblem also adorns his chromatic arm.
He stealthily shifts forward as the orc enters the building, waiting for him to see the chaos wreaked inside. He hears more guttural cries, and lines up his shot. He squeezes off one electrical round, and turns to run like hell. He covers his head, the sound deafening, and the force of the explosion nearly knocking him off his feet.
A grin curls his lips as he reaches the road and sees the ruin of the former hideout. He did like to cause devastation.
Blank appears from the rear of the building and together the three of them retreat to the Party Van.