The vibration of the engine slowed and I awake, all vestiges of sleep gone in an instant. A small town is on the left as we slow for a stop at a two story station. O’Reilly brings the train to a stop as I look over at the City of Fredericksburg.
Despite living in Darbytown, which is only an hour away, I have never seen this city and honestly it’s fascinating. While there is no sky scrapers or anything that screamed “city” it had a bustling center of town that appeared to be a historical area. From our location on the elevated bridge, I can look down at the people milling below.
It’d be so easy to snipe them from here, to put a single shot in each of their heads. The very thought causes a chill to run up my spine and it reminds me of a fact that I know so well. I am a predator; someone that feeds off the billions of sheep that live their quiet lives in what they think is safety.
You see, that’s the problem with this world. People think there’s no chance of anything happening to them, that the police and military alone will keep them safe. That’s a load of shit and deep down inside I wonder if they realize that. There’s no chance a cop can be everywhere at once and even if they were, I could kill them without breaking a sweat.
I let my mind wander for several minutes as passengers disembark and others board. No point in being but so alert since no one could get into the cab. That doesn’t mean I’m relaxed, mind you, just enjoying a moment of relative peace.
“I know I shouldn’t ask,” O’Reilly said. “But what’s going on in Darbtytown that’s so important you’d take this big of a risk to get there?”
I chew on the end of my thumb for a couple of seconds while I mull his question over. Telling the truth would leave me open to be screwed down the road; keeping quiet wouldn’t be much better because then O’Reilly would start asking others. And ducking the issue? That makes me seem even guiltier.
“It’s a long story.”
“I know there’s some sort of cluster fuck going with the family higher ups. You wouldn’t be involved in that?”
“For a member of the mafia, you sure have a big fucking mouth.”
“Forget that I asked.”
“No, I’m saying that you need to learn when not to ask a question. Sometimes you can, other times you can’t. A situation like this is one you don’t get your nose into it.”
“Normally I’d’ve killed you out of hand, but I’m feeling generous for some fucking reason or another. So, keep your trap shut.”
“How long before we reach Darbytown?”
“Another forty to forty five minutes due to station stops.”
“Where’s the closest subway?”
“Franconia and Springfield station.”
“How long before we get there?”
“You will look the other way then or I’ll kill you, got it?”
With that an uneasy silence settled over the cab and I went back to watching the world below. Being asked what was going on by such a small fish both disturbed me and pissed me off at the same time. Just how many goddamn people know who I am and what’s going on?
Furthermore, could I trust them to keep their fucking mouths shut? The last thing that this situation needed was shit tons of people spreading information on the street. If that happened, it would surely get back to Lacey and she’d leave town, putting me back to square one.
And to make things worse, I’d be back to riding the damn Metro subway again. Compared to the one on Greenmist, Darbytown’s was filthy and poorly lit and I haven’t missed it one bit. Now, I’ll have to find a way to duck cops who may or may not be looking for me.
The second challenge will be getting to my weapons cache and finding where Lacey is. God only knows what that might take! And so help me if I have to go to some high class party to get information I’ll pull my fucking hair out!
Now, where should I start? Boss Banderas might be a source of information, but I killed one of his lawyers when working for Tom so he might hold a grudge. Josephine could help, but I know she’s pissed at me for killing a rapist before she could. Fuck, the list goes on so long and each has a reason to hate me.
This is going to be so much fun.
It looks like the best thing I can do is to focus on each small task before moving to the next. Right now, I need to get from the train to the subway without drawing attention to myself. From there it’s getting back to Darbytown and find a place to stay. No doubt the place where Tom and I lived has been rented out again or is still locked down as a potential crime scene. Looked like a hotel would be in order.
Unlike Lacey who needed to lie low during her faked pursuit, I needed to stay at a nice place. It’d be one of the last things the police or alliance security would expect. They’ll be operating on the premise that I’ll try to keep a low profile, so they’ll be checking out every non-descript place while I’m in the Four Seasons or something like that.
But to get the room, I’ll have to change clothes again, or at least get a suitcase to keep up the appearance of being a teen tourist. That way no one would suspect who I am and I’d have free reign to come and go. Hopefully, with any luck, no one will get the brilliant idea to check the place out.
The train slows to a stop at the station and I open the door and then climb down the ladder. Fortunately, the conductor is looking the other direction, so no one sees me exit and then disappear into the shadows. A handful of people disembark and then head for the subway station, so I quietly join them. Once again, the big city idea of no one paying any attention to what’s going on around them works to my advantage.
I swear that people are stupid and more like cattle than they want to admit. Individually, a human being can be very dangerous, but once in packs they just go with the flow, which I continually take advantage of. See, a predator will the ability to be a chameleon blends in so much that it’s as if he or she doesn’t exist until they strike.
And strike I could and it’s so tempting to do so. The ten people around me could all be dead in less than fifteen seconds and I’d walk away undetected. Only problem is I’d waste some of my precious bullets.
The station proves colder than even the air outside and it makes me shiver despite the cloak covering most of my upper body. A couple of minutes later the train comes into view and I take in a deep breath and then sigh. Things were about to heat up and this would be my last chance to just walk away and forget the entire thing.
There’s nothing to keep Lacey from coming after me again, I thought. Might as well finish what I started.
I plop down and then look out the window and luxuriate in the car’s warmth. A slight shudder causes my teeth to clatter together and then the subway started to pull away from the station. From this distance, it’d take almost an hour to get to town, so nothing to do but sit, wait and plan.
It doesn’t matter how many people are pissed at me in Darbytown, they will help me. Otherwise, I might lose my temper and body bags will be needed. See, these guys might think they’re tough, but they haven’t seen anything like me and I will get the help I need.
This and a thousand thoughts are racing through my head as I brood over the situation. Lacey was a smart bitch, I got to give her that, to be able to pull the wool over both Alex and Janice’s eyes. That made her a formidable opponent, even if she didn’t have the bomb, and not one to be taken lightly. I needed to keep that in mind from here on out and plan accordingly.
Metro center, where the red, yellow, orange and blue lines all cross each other, is where I need to change trains at. From there I’ll hop a red line train and ride it over to Brandenburg Circle. It wouldn’t take long to find a place to stay-once I get what I need to keep my cover.
You know, sometimes I feel like a secret agent, and in many ways the way we do things aren’t much different. Both of us have to keep up facades and pretend to be people we’re not while going about our daily lives. We also can’t afford to let people know our true names and for the most part tend to live our lives on the move.
I can’t help but think about what Tom made me do when I lived here last. The feel of the cold steel in my hands and the oily, almost metallic odor of gun oil hung in the air that first time I handled a weapon. So many guns had been fired in the range that my mouth filled with the bitter taste of gunpowder.
“Don’t lift your thumb up like that,” Tom would say. “The kickback will take off the tip of it. Cross them like this…”
The first time the weapon fired, it terrified me despite all the warnings Tom gave, and the bullet missed the target all together. Tom smacked me on the back of the head and then scolded me for wasting the bullet. It was then that I learned the lesson of making sure each one hits its mark and to not miss.
I absorbed everything Tom taught like a sponge, and my marksmanship improved by leaps and bounds. Within a month I was hitting the kill zone with regularity; six months later I could put an entire magazine into a space no bigger than my hand. Tom, of course, was pleased and then sent me onto the rest of my training.
Compared to firearms training, learning how to hack security systems was a pain in the ass. This took longer than anything else involving my training. To this day I don’t know how Lieutenant Katsasuki kept her temper in check.
From there it became hand to hand, and Ricky taught me that and he spared nothing. Landing hard on the mat and coming home with tons of bruises was a fact of life back then.
Of all the things I learned, it was making the connections with the underworld that proved the easiest. Despite being an assassin for a crooked cop-or maybe because of-the criminals took me in and made me feel at home. Perhaps it was because they too were predators and they understood that when one of their own got killed it wasn’t personal; that it was just business.