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Episode: 1.11

--- Jericho ---

The shaking from the explosion knocked the glass out of his hand, cracking as it hit the ground. “What was that?!”

“I don’t know…” Damico admitted, grabbing his cane from the wall before making his way around the counter.

“Where do you think you’re going?!” He asked stepping in front of the old man.

“My figilia and nipotina are out there, I have to make sure they are okay!” Damico yelled at him.

“Look, Damico,” He raised his hands in a placating manner, “I’ve known you for years. I also know that you can’t handle whatever is going on, not by yourself.”

“Then you’ll help me, and we’ll take care of whoever is a fucking with mia famiglia.”

(Okay, glad you’re volunteering me to risk my life…)

He shook his head. “Look, whoever is out there has guns and explosives, you… you have a cane and bifocals.”

“Where I come from a cane is all a man needs.” The stubborn old man argued.

“Yes, I’ve seen the wonders of Cane-Fu.” He admitted placatingly. “Hell, old man Sam taught me English Bartitsu. But with that said, in this situation I think you need just a bit more than that.”

“That isn’t going to stop me from protecting mia famiglia.” The ex-mafioso told him, with a swing of his cane.

He caught the cane mid-swing, before looking the older man in the eye. “Which is why I’m stopping you, from getting yourself killed.”

“What about that girl you came in here with?! That Allison girl?!”

He glanced out the window as more gunfire echoed. “She’s ex-black ops, she can handle herself.”

(Hell, that gunfire is probably her shooting the bad guys…)

There were a few more shots before the gunfire stopped.

(Yeah, she’s a badass that can… that can totally happen…)

“So, you’re just going to abandon your friend?!” Damico asked shaking his head in shame. “I thought you were better than that.”

He winced, because…

(It wouldn’t be the first time you gave up on someone…)

He shook his head.

(Don’t think about it…)

He ran a hand through his hair, before glancing out the window once more.

(You know she’d go out there for you…)

He shook his head again, trying really hard to ignore that voice.

(What’s she always telling you… ‘no soldier left behind’?)

“But I’m not a soldier…” he whined through grit teeth, before releasing a frustrated sigh.

(Damn it!)

“Alright, I’ll, I’ll go out there and see what’s going on. If you,” he pointed at the old man, “stay here.” He pointed at the ground, “Capiche?”

Damico stared at him for a moment before giving a wry smirk, “You do realize saying that to an Italian is sort of racist, right?”

He ran a hand down his face before turning to the exit. “Fuck you too, Damico…”

As he pushed open the door to the tailor shop, he gave the area a quick once over, just in case he missed something from the window.

While the mall had been fairly empty due to a slow day, the place was still suspiciously empty. Then again when a villain sets off a bomb, there wasn’t really much people could do besides booking it the fuck out of there.

Spotting a nearby map, he made his way over before looking for somewhere bad guys might use when running… (whatever) op they were running.

(Okay, now if I was a villain…)

He paused.

(Correction, if I was a sub-par cliché villain with no class or style, where would I be…)

Now in the correct mentality, he looked the map over once more, before tapping a space near the center of the map.

(First floor food court. Near the center of the building, no roof entrance and a good hundred meters from any exit, with said exits visible with a quick sweep at any given moment.)

He nodded.

(Yeah, that sounds about right.)

Rolling his shoulders, he glanced around in search of either stragglers or the people responsible for today’s attack.

(Now how to get there without being caught, because that would just be incompetence on my end…)

Despite what Rook may think, he was anything but incompetent, and refused to be seen as such.

(Since the food court is on the first floor, I should probably keep to the second, since people rarely bother to look up…)

He glanced at a shop to his left, one of the few to not have its shudders down. Whether this was because the clerks had already run, or because whoever was responsible for this mess already had them, he couldn't say.

(Then again maybe if I search the shops, I might luck out and find everyone hiding there, then we can all gather up and find an exit out of this place…)

He ran a hand down his face, before sighing.

(In which case I should also probably check to see if those explosions have done any damage to the general structure, don’t want to be caught under a collapsing roof, even if it’s just a wing of the mall…)

That made him pause.

(Hell, they might’ve rigged extra explosives there just to cut off anyone trying to get in or out… And if that’s the case, we’d be better off holding up in the back of Damico’s shop until help arrives… or the anti-help kills everyone at the hostage site…)

That thought made him wince, because with his luck whatever ‘squad’ was sent to handle this situation, would probably just make the whole thing worse if past experience was anything to go by.

(The heroes are going to get someone killed~)

He shook his head and rubbed his palms into his eyes as he forcibly pushed away that train of thought.

(I’m over thinking it… I just, I just need to focus on one thing at a time, and deal with it then…)

Turning around he began making his way to the main food court, being sure to stop and check each open store he passed. Even if only giving it a cursory look through the windows, in case someone other than him and Damico were still in the mall, and not doing something.

After a few dull, if not restless, minutes spent trying not to think about all the empty should-be-staffed shops he’d passed or the increasing possibility of Rook being in trouble, he heard a number of voices coming from around the corner.

An old instinct kicked in as he silently rushed to the corner and held his breath as he peeked around the corner, before spotting two guys on the second floor, keeping an eye on the food court.

(Guess that means I was right…)

That at least meant he had an objective point, which was an actual start to sorting this problem out.

(Alright, I know where the hostages are. Now I just need to see them, and make sure Sienna or Rook are amongst them…)

He glanced between the two guards, not looking at each other.

(I can probably take them both out without drawing too much attention from each other… But if I do that, the guys on the ground floor will know something is up. And I don’t think I can scout the floor without being spotted, at least not without dealing with these two…)

Hiding back around the corner he considered his options.

(So, let’s see, I can alert the guys around the hostages, or alert the guys on overwatch…)

Neither was a good option.

(Which just means I have to find option three…)

He let his eyes wander around the mall wing, trying to find his missing third option, before an old rule he used to abuse maliciously came to mind, drawing his eyes up to the building rafters above.

(No one ever bothers looking up…)

He backed away from the corner, and down the wing, trying to find the ideal spot to do what he was about to do. Eventually he stopped in front of a toy store with a large sign that fell just shy of the rafters.

(Wall… Sign… Vent gratings… Wall again… and rafters…)

Slowly he let his eyes map a path out for him.

(Okay, I can do this…)

He took a deep breath, hoping to psych himself up… before looking up and down the mall wing, hoping for an out.

(Maybe there’s a security room nearby and I can just use the cameras…)

He slapped himself, before he could actually wuss out like a bitch.

(No, you can do this. You used to do this stuff all the time…)

(That was years ago!) Some part of him felt compelled to argue.

(Supervillains aren’t afraid of getting hurt!)

(You’re an idiot not a supervillain!)

He shook his head, ignoring the doubtful voices screaming in the back of his mind, before closing his eyes, and inhaling slowly.

(1… 2… 3… 4…)

He began exhaling.

(1… 2… 3… 4…)

He repeated this, three more times.

He opened his eyes.

He nodded to himself.

And he ran.

His shoes hit the wall sending him two steps up, before he was forced to kick off it and grab the bottom of the store sign. And with a level of strain that showed how out of shape he’d gotten, he just managed to pull himself up and on top of the sign. Barely fitting there even as he pressed himself against the wall.

He looked up before stretching his arm upwards trying to grab the vent grate above, only for his finger tips to just brush.

(Damn it…)

He glanced over his shoulder, and back at the still reasonably close ground, thinking he could take that fall easily enough, before shaking his head again.

(Nothing ‘s changed; you can still do this.)

Bending his knees as much as he could manage, he took a deep breath before jumping off the ledge, kicking off the wall, and quickly grabbing onto the edge of the vent grate above him, something that put an insane level of pressure on his fingers.

“Really feeling the burn…” He cursed under his breath forcing his legs up and against the wall, before checking over his shoulder and making absolutely sure it was possible for him to do this without breaking his neck.

(Okay, half-way there…)

Feeling his fingertips start to slip, he shook his head and said, “Fuck it.” With a slight feat of dexterity, he managed to kick up and off the wall once more, while stretching his arm out just enough to grab onto the rafter with one hand, an action that very nearly dislocated his shoulder.

(Why must we hurt ourselves?!)

Shaking his head, he bit his lip.

(Walk it off you’ve felt worse.)

With a skill of rusted ease, he swung himself up just enough to grab onto the rafter with his other hand. Once his grip was at least semi-stable he began slowly pulling himself up, limb by limb, and inch by inch.

A feat that left him gasping for air as he clung to the rafter for dear life, in the least painful position his aching muscles would allow.

His eyes fell to the ground below him, as he realized just how high he managed to climb, despite being out of shape.

“I’m a fucking badass…” he chuckled breathlessly.

He suddenly remembered he’d have to climb down once he was done up here.

“I’m a badass who really doesn’t want to do that again…” he whined just as breathlessly.

Shuddering at the thought of his impending broken bones, he forced himself to turn to the side so he could see how bad of a climb it would be to get to a good vantage point for the food court, only to spot something that made him want to break down in tears.

A maintenance walkway sat just a few feet above him, one that very likely connected to a very painlessly climbed ladder somewhere else in the mall.

“I’m a fucking dumbass who didn’t have to do any of that…”

After taking a moment to wallow in self-pity, loathing and a number of other negative feelings about his own stupidity, a moment that let the ache of his muscles calm to a dull throb, he climbed onto the maintenance walkway. An act that was in fact very painless to climb onto compared to his previous route.

As followed the walkway to the food court, he glanced down more than a little glad to see the old rule was holding true, and that none of the criminals were bothering to look up. Luckily even if they did bother to look at the ceiling more than two stories above them, the maintenance path was hidden in the shadows cast by the very lights they were designed to help fix and maintain.

(Let’s see here…)

He stopped above a crowd of people roughly tied together, before letting his eyes roam the scene below, making sure to note the armed men that surrounded the people who’d had the poor fortune of being taken hostage.

The hostages were divided into two groups, on opposite corners of the room, with two guys with assault rifles watching each group, and another in the center of them all issuing orders to the rest every so often.

Of the two hostage groups, his eyes immediately wandered to the one that was comprised entirely of kids, all crying and scared… The way Sienna’s daughter pulled her knees into her chest while fighting back tears, hit him especially hard.

(Alone… scared… hurt…)

He shook his head, clearing away those thoughts, even as his lips drew back into a snarl.

(Note to self: Break someone’s jaw. Also make these guys look like complete idiots.)

Forcing himself to take a calming breath he turned his attention over to the other group, hoping beyond hope, Rook’s panic attack led her to leaving the mall… even if that meant she was probably alone and vulnerable and…

He shook his head rubbing a hand against his eyes.

(No, Rook can take of herself, she’s a big girl.)

(Just stay focused.)

Opening his eyes once more he gave the other group of hostages a once over, already knowing he’d find Sienna somewhere in its midst, unless something worse-

He shook his head again.

(Don’t think about it.)

He scanned the crowd once more, almost sighing in relief when he finally found her, forcing the shadows in his head to pull back even if marginally, only to wrap around his heart as his eyes landed on Rook.

(SHIT!)

(She’s, She’s-)

(Outrage… Panic… Pain…)

He fell away from the walkway’s edge, his heart pounding against his chest.

(Worry… Fear… Resignation…)

The world began to spin around him, as he gasped for air unable to breath.

(A single gunshot.)

A cold sweat washed over him as he tried to hold back the bile building in his throat.

(Guilt… Sorrow… Agony.)

He closed his eyes, holding his hands against his head as pulled at his hair.

(ENOUGH!!!)

His eyes shot open as he lunged, biting into one of his hand hard enough to draw blood, the taste of metal and pain grounding him in a way little else could.

It took him a moment to finally calm his breathing, another to get his heart to quit trying to escape his chest, and yet another to stand on his own two feet.

He glanced back down at Rook, before gritting his teeth.

(This is not then.)

(This is now.)

He tugged at the tops of his gloves as he turned to make his way back to the second floor, more than ready to show these idiots why you don’t fuck with Jericho Fucking King.

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Arthicern

  • A Delightful Denizen of Demented Distinguish

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Mejiro ago

(Yeah, that sound about right.) should be (Yeah, that sounds about right.)

Whether this was because the clerks had already run, or because the

This just cuts off part way through, and doesn't sound like it's meant to be cut off narration?

    Arthicern ago

    Thanks, points for catching those.

    And yeah, no, that second one is an unfinished sentence. I jump around a lot when I'm writing, so I probably missed it when I was smoothing things out, or thought I'd already finished it when I came back to write one of the other parts.

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