Luckily, my senses had come to me, and I hadn’t tried to take on the entire base in a suicidal bombing mission armed with nothing but a heart full of rage. Taking down the heart of Bansilin manufacturing is no one man job. But I think it might be a two man job. The way back had been long and tiring, but necessary. Hopefully, it would pay off.
36 Raffling Road, just as he’d told me when I met him. Now, standing in front of the large red door, I feel nervous to ring the doorbell. I force myself to do it anyway.
The door swings open, and Malyk stands before me, tall, with his thin shaggy hair dangling around his face. The undershirt vest he’s wearing makes him look lankier than he already is.
It looks like a kerfuffle of emotions barrage through his mind before me.
“I know,” I start. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have run like I did. I heard that you saved the day. Right?”
He breathes once, then says. “That was a pretty dick thing to do.”
“But I heard that Tauren ran as well.”
I nod again.
“You heard about Wesslin?”
I nod a third time.
He sighs. “Come in.”
He leads me into his house, which is narrow but comfy. He sits on a sessel, and I sit opposite to him, across a glass coffee table, on a brown sofa. His eyebrows jump, and he strides to the kitchen, returning with two glasses of frothy green liquid. He sets one in front of me. “It should ease our conversation.”
I nod and take a sip. It tastes tangy like pickles but is fizzy like soda.
“So. What can I do you for, my friend?” he asks.
I clear my throat. “How old are you?”
“Um. Twenty five, why?”
“Twenty five, and you have your own house?”
“Well yeah. My parents were well off. Dead now. Don’t worry about it.”
I nod. “Well, we might need some of that money.”
“Kallix, I don’t think you understand what the hell your talking about,” Malyk says, as if he’s unable to grasp what I just explained to him.
“We can do it,” I reassure. “With the plan, if we move quickly and effectively…”
“That’s not a bloody plan!” he shouts. “We’ll get shot if we don’t succeed and blown up if we do.”
“Are you against Bansilin?”
“Well yeah of course.”
“Do you know who killed Wesslin?”
“Yeah. I killed the bastard who did.”
“But do you know who that they were sent by a mafia group led by a woman named Qiara who are killing anybody influential that’s against Bansilin?”
“I’m hardly influential.”
“That’s not the point! Good people are getting killed! We can stop it and get rid of Bansilin at the same time.”
Malyk reclines and takes a long sip of his drink. “You’re not exactly the type to do something because people are getting killed.”
“So why do you want this place taken down. And why are you ready to risk your life.”
“I’m not ready to risk my life. I never am. I want this shit down because its ruining people’s lives, including my own, and I wouldn’t be talking to you right now if I thought we would die doing it.”
Malyk licks the last of his drink from his lips. “We go in, we scout it out, and we come back, think of a plan. A real plan. Maybe I can get us some contacts that can help us.”
I’ve got an hour until I’m supposed to meet Malyk, my sole ally. One and a half hour before the next train leaves for East Side. As I stand, facing the neon train schedule, somebody bumps against my shoulder.
“Watch it, bumblebee,” I mutter.
Whoever it was takes no notice, and stands next to me, their face hidden beneath a cowl that covers their entire body so that lightweight black boots are all I can see.
He stares at the ground, then taps my wrist twice, pivots and walks away.
I glance at him as he walks towards the parking lot, then disappears between two cars. What the hell? No choice now.
I turn and follow him, glancing around as inconspicuously as possible for security cameras. When I see none, I duck down between a huge black pickup and an ugly green saloon car. I lie flat down and slide under the car, then stand next to the shadowy figure.
“Wanna tell me who the hell you are?”
“Hold on a second,” he mutters, still turned away from me, he pulls up his sleeve to reveal look at his watch. He stands and beckons me to follow.
Mystery man leads me into an alleyway, where at the end I can see another, taller man covered similarly.
Suddenly, he swivels around and drops the cowl. Big, missing tooth grin, sun battered skin, scraggly mustache, eyeshadow, purple mohawk and all, Deqar laughs. He grips me in a huge bear hug, one of his hands sliding down to my ass. I push him away.
“Freaking hell,” I mutter.
The second one strides to us. Varan. He punches me hard in the shoulder. “Dick. Freaking made me talk to that hag Shei guy for like an hour!’
“Didn’t you, get arrested?” I ask Deqar.
“Totally. Because you bastards left my bleeding ass to die. They took me to some drug addict rehab shit. Busted out in a day,” he laughs.
My feet shift, ready to run. “I swear if you’re gonna knock me out and I’ll wake up with a damn headache in that bloody building again-”
“Naww, don’t worry about it,” Deqar assures, stepping back. “We ditched that twat. Once and for all.”
“Yeah,” Varan nods. “I knew he was a dick, but after I heard about your dad I couldn’t.”
“Who? Zorikan? You guys left him?”
Deqar nods excitedly.
“Right! That’s awesome!” I exclaim. “Now we can… we can get back at him.”
“Back at him? You want to fight against Zorikan?”
I nod wearily. “Teach him a lesson. Don’t you think? He’s a dick. Dicks like him deserve to be snapped. Dicks like us deserve to be road by nice, round asses.”
The two ex-Swifters burst into laughter. “Bro, you’re hilarious,” Varan says through high pitched giggles.
“But you don’t fight Zorikan,” Deqar cuts. “That’s insanity. You’d have better luck waging war against the police force, rather than him.”
“Why’s that?” I ask. “I’ve evaded him twice. He’s cruel, ruthless sure, but he’s not a freaking god. How many men does he have? I’ve only ever seen you two, Rieka and that brute Dainin.”
“Zorikan likes to hide his numbers. Nobody really knows how many men he’s got in his pocket. Hell, we don’t even know. All we know is our crew, of us and Rieka. Different crews don’t really interact with each other much. No idea how many crews he’s got. Plus he’s got allies, tons of them, with different underground and aboveground organizations that he helps out sometimes in return for goods, favors, money, or whatever he wants. It’s suicide to go against him.”
I shrug. “Fine. I’m actually committing suicide right now, want to join me?”
Deqar raises an eyebrow. “More suicidal than going against Zorikan?”
“Dunno. Not sure, but it sure as hell is big. Biggest stunt that would ever. We’d go down in the hall of fame for this. Might get filthy rich while we’re at it. I’m just looking for a couple allies at the moment.”
Varan and Deqar glance at each other, then lean in. “Tell us more.”
“Bansilin. The biggest selling product in the city. It’s more persistent than rats. Police have been trying to get rid of it for years, but it only grows more popular.”
“What are you proposing,” Varan asks.
“I found the factory. I found the base. I found the manufacturers. Whatever you call it, I found it.”
They gawk. “That shit’s been searched for since four years!”
“I know, and I found it. We go in, we blow that shit sky high, frustrate a lot of wealthy people. You know how Bansilin is literally holding our economy together? Everybody is rich because of it, right?”
They nod vigorously.
“We topple to pyramid. Let’s real, hard working people get where they want to go. Plus, if we manage to get our hands on some of it, we could sell the it for absolutely insane prices.”
Deqar swallows, “You, my friend, have just given me two boners in two minutes.”
“Wait. How on earth are we going to pull this off? What are the odds of us even succeeding?”
“We can figure that out later. Right now, my friend and I are rallying up as many people as possible and going to scout it out.”
“Scout what out?” asks somebody.
The three of us turn. I gasp escapes my throat.
Zorikan, with his chiseled arms and pale grey eyes stands before us, at the entrance of the alleyway. His sole earing glints in the sunlight.
I flinch, ready to run like hell, when I hear the sound of a gun cocking. He holds up the uzi. “One wrong move and you’re dead.”
The three of us glance at each other.
“Now tell me,” he instructs, walking closer. “What is it that you’re going to scout?”
I bite my lip, unsure of what to say.
Varan pipes up, speaking like as if he’s having a nervous breakdown. “The Bansilin factory. Kallix found it, and he thinks we can destroy it and stop production.”
Zorikan’s eyes open wide. “What? You… found the Bansilin factory? Yes, let’s blow it sky high!”
He nods, lowering his uzi. “Let’s just say, Bansilin isn’t great for the majority of my allies. Both them and I would benefit from being rid of it.”
I’m unsure of what to do when Zorikan continues, “You think you can take it down?”
I nod wearily.
He holsters the weapon. “Then you have my assistance. Deqar, Varan, good job at tracking Kallix down,” he says with an edge in his voice.
They shuffle their feet uncomfortably.
Zorikan looks at us expectantly, then jerks his head and turns around. “Follow me.”
His storm pale eyes make me shiver as he stares at me. The handgun in his outstretched arm that he grips by the barrel, glints in the moonlight. “Take it,” he instructs. “Six rounds in it. If you want any extra clips, they’re the third left.”
If his eyes are a storm, my eyes are lightning. I tilt my chin up and spit at him. With the elegance of a swan, he evades it, holding my gaze.
“You’ll need it. This will be dangerous. I can’t afford for you to be shot.”
“I need my dad.”
“I can’t give you that. Your dad is the tie between us. He holds us together.”
“If I take this gun, I’ll cock it and then I’ll put a bullet in your forehead. And then another one in your chest. And then a third in your stomach.”
“That would be a waste of ammo. One shot would be more than enough. A headshot would be effective, but it wouldn’t satisfy you. A stomach shot, and I might survive. You shouldn’t take those chances. A chest shot would be ideal, if you miss my heart. I would die inevitably, and you would get to watch it. Watch my blood pool around your sneakers as you drop the gun. As you would walk out of the room, red stains would remain on the floor and a little on your shoes.”
I snatch the gun from his hands and point it directly between his eyes. I’m not going to give him the satisfaction of my obedience. I glance around to see if there are any guards, but the room is empty. “Are there any guards waiting just outside the door?”
He shakes his head. “I don’t do guards. If you work here, then you can take care of yourself.”
I cock it and press the barrel to his forehead. “You’re a piece of shit.”
“So are you,” he responds. “So pull the trigger.”
I will. I’ll blow his brains out, bust out of here, and go take down the Bansilin factory myself. I don’t need shit from him. I’ll go with Malyk, together and we’ll… we’ll die.
I switch the safety back on and tuck the gun into my waistband.
Zorikan smiles. Not a wicked smile, nor a warm one, but the kind of smile that a business man makes. His perfectly white teeth shine. It’s disgusting. “You need me as much as I need you, probably more.”
I smile back. I can’t shoot him, but I sure as hell can acquaint his jaw with my knuckles. I swing.
Note to self: Never challenge Zorikan in a fist fight. The scenes of him dodging, taking me down and nearly dislocating my shoulder flash through my mind as I wait for Malyk outside his doorstep. It’s still sore as I roll it. Hopefully it doesn’t affect me when we go in.
To my dismay, a light drizzle commences, setting the tone for the events at hand. “God freaking damnit,” I mutter, and pull my knees up closer. The concrete step is cold, and the wind bites at my neck, but Rieka’s hoodie keeps me warm. It keeps me safe.
The rain makes my tangled locks fall over my eyes, and drip down between my legs. My shades fog up, turning the street into a hazy painting, with rushing, disembodied figures passing by. I’ll probably regret my decision. My weakness. Sissy? Yeah Mordecai, you’re right. I am a freaking sissy. I’m a little, bony piece of shit, sitting in the rain, like the piece of shit I am. Stupid piece of shit. Why didn’t you pull the trigger? Huh? Why didn’t you fu…
I lower my shades to see a woman in her late thirties leaning over me with an umbrella, shielding me from the downpour. She looks almost like my mom except she has blond curly hair. “Are you locked out of your home?”
“Buzz off, hooker,” I snarl.
She looks taken aback. “I… I’m sorry,” she says, then takes a step away, but stops. She turns back to me and holds out her umbrella. “Do... you look like you could use it more than me.
I stare, breathing heavily through the rain for a moment. People like this still exist? I thought they died out, along with the clean water, fresh air and animals. I flip her off, sending her on her way, leaving me, a grizzled street dog, where I belong.
Would I have regretted it if I had pulled the trigger? Probably. The Bansilin factory would still be running, because I wouldn’t be able to take it out alone. I haven’t got any other allies… unless… why don’t I call Kaloaan? Why don’t I alert the police, so it can be there problem, not mine? If I move now, I might be able to make it. They can bust open the factory, blow it sky high, stop production, pull up and arrest Zorikan, free my dad…would they catch him? Would they be able to catch or kill Zorikan? Would they want to? If he is as powerful as Varan said, then I could be starting a war.
If they did manage to even catch Zorikan, they’d get Rieka, Deqar and Varan too. Do I want that? They… they aren’t my friends. They’ve never done shit for me. They… left Zorikan to help me. They came to me first of all the people in the world.
“Kallix! Why are you waiting out in the rain?” Malyk asks, hurrying up to me and unlocking the door.
“Hey,” I mutter, pushing hair from my face.
He bustles inside and I trudge after him.
“Get that hoodie off,” he instructs. “And your shoes too. Your soaked!”
I do as I’m told, leaving my shirtless and barefoot on his couch. He flicks a switch, turning on a fake fire before me, omitting much needed heat as I begin to shiver. He disappears, then returns with a steaming mug and blanket. He covers me and hands me the drink.
“What’s this?” I ask.
“Something to warm you up… and a tad of happy powder mixed in. You look like you need it.”
I sip gratefully. “Any luck?”
He shakes his head. “Everybody I contacted is scared shitless of this Qiara person. Wesslin isn’t the only one who’s been silenced. Remember that dude who led the protest last month? They knocked on his door and shot him. That surgeon who made the public statement. Organized car crash. The model who’s quote made headlines? Her own bloody bodyguard.”
“Her own body guard?” I ask, incredulously.
He nods. “Qiara apparently paid him off. This girl is loaded and deadly.”
If Qiara finds out that Zorikan is going to take down the factory, I might not have to deal with him at all.
“Looks like it’s just the two of us,” Malyk sighs.
I shake my head, making little droplets of water sink into the blanket. “I made a couple friends.”
I take a long sip, feeling the warmth of the drink spread through my body. I pop a pill. “They call themselves the Swifters, lead by a real bastard named Zorikan. They’re like a group of underground thieves, but big time. Apparently, they’ve got alliances with many major companies and shit. I don’t know the details so don’t ask me. I know a few of them, and Zorikan’s willing to help us out. He’s against Bansilin as well.” I leave out the part about my dad.
Malyk nods in understanding. “Alright. Are we still going to scope it out?”
“I don’t know. What I do know is that we’re not in charge of this operation anymore. So, listen up. We play by his rules, we get this shit done, but first chance we get, we kill his ass.”