Putting his shoulder to the brick wall, Jougs shoved and as he did so his boots slid across the cement. He quit shoving as he neared a 45º angle to the wall. Pushing himself upright, he asked, “you sure it’s this wall?”
Glancing from the map to Jougs, the annoyed Inquisitor replied, “use
the tools,” and tapped the bag slung across Vorant’s back.
Shaking his head, Vorant unslung the
duffle, unzipped the main compartment, and proceeded to dig around.
After a moment, he held up a short handled sledge hammer. “Here,”
he said before disappearing back into the bag to withdraw a rusted
“Is that all you brought?” Jougs asked.
“Nope,” Vorant said, extracting a
hammer and an incredibly long screw driver, “brought this too.”
“So, we’re just supposed to start banging on the wall?”
Jougs’ doubt as to the sanity of the plan had grown exponentially
since leaving the Interrogation Room. He asked, “don’t you think
someone on the other side will hear us?”
Inquisitor’s irritation level had surpassed what he normally
thought acceptable, he refrained from bashing Jougs’ face into the
brick. Instead, he held the map to the wall where he shined the light
down and used his other hand to point. “On the other side is heavy
machinery. First thing we do is tap through. Then, we verify no one’s
around. After that, we break it down.”
“Um. So. What
about the next one?” Jougs asked.
Same thing,” Vorant said, shaking
the duffle bag.
“So. Why aren’t we just blowing them
Without answering, the Inquisitor stepped back,
rolled the map up, and shook his head. He breathed heavily for a
moment before slapping Jougs with the map and saying, “we don’t
want them to know we’re coming.”
breaking down four walls?” Jougs asked.
The veins on the
Inquisitor’s neck began to pulse as he ground his teeth. “We’re
breaking down three walls and blowing up one.”
thought the last one had to be silent,” Vorant said.
don’t mean to rain on your parade,” Jougs began, “just think
about it. You want two guys to beat down three brick walls with
minimal noise,” he held up the sledge hammer and the railroad
spike, “before silently blowing up a fourth wall to extract two
other guys who were so stupid they got caught. You’re the
Inquisitor and you don’t seem to have questioned this plan.” He
paused, while watching the Inquisitor’s jaw clench and face redden
in the dull fluorescent light. For a split second he contemplated
stopping, but the thought never made it to his mouth. Jougs
continued, “it ain’t that I got a problem busting them out...it’s
that we’re gonna be worthless after breaking down those walls. I
ain’t even joking. Think about it. That last wall goes boom,
there’s gonna be fighting and we’re gonna be tired from
hammering. Do I look like a mother fucking construction worker? No.
See these hands?” He held up his hands, “cold-blooded killers
don’t get callouses from hammers.”
Although Vorant said
nothing, his head bounced up and down in agreement.
Inquisitor glared at the two
concurring men. While one part of him greatly desired to bash their
skulls together, another somewhat more rational part of him saw their
point. Realizing that for the first time in weeks the duumviri
were once again in concert convinced him that the time was right. “I
wondered how long it’d take you two to balls up.”
“Huh?” Jougs and Vorant asked.
“I just can’t
believe you let it go this far,” he shook his head. Tapping his
wrist, he added, “time is ticking.” The Inquisitor unrolled the
map and began pointing to various boxes with Xs, “air ducts.” He
drew his finger across the map, “you see this? This is our way in.”
“So, the brick walls weren’t the
plan?” Jougs asked.
“Mr. Jougs, I’ve been a patient
man,” the Inquisitor smiled as he rotated his hand and used his
middle finger to point at the vent over his head.
fucked up, Boss!” Jougs exclaimed.
Shivering, Commander Samuel Felis’ head lolled back and forth as
he moaned. In the struggle to get his head up, he managed to drop his
chin onto his chest. He fought to lift his eyelids like a kid trying
to heft a caber. When he finally got one open the blinding light
forced him to close it again. “Come...on...” he growled, blinking
that one eye again, and then squinting at the floor. “Wha—?”
Grinding teeth, forcing brain to fight fog, and repeating, “come
on! Hey ya! Sammy!” Upon getting both eyes to cooperate, the old
boy realized his problems lay deeper than whatever drug coursed
through his veins. That low-born bastard had done more than knock his
head against the wall. And, though his temple pounded, his left side
throbbed to the point that every breath felt like a slow death.
Breathe shallow, he
told himself as he took in the room.
Cassie muttered, her eyes rolled loosely as she tried to focus on the
“Oh! Uh. Okay,” the young woman nodded
emphatically. She unceremoniously heaved the wobbling Messenger off
of Preston’s couch. “Can you walk?”
“I. I. Sure,”
Cassie said as she weakly leaned against the cook before bringing
them both down onto the couch. “Make the spinning stop!”
“I. I don’t kno—” Cassie spewed her
belly full of water across the arm of the couch, and then held
tightly to her lower abdomen. “Oh, Mercury. Just end me.”
“You can’t talk like that,” the horrified cook said. “We
at her with crossed eyes and wobbling head, Cassie snorted, “and I
need to feel normal for five minutes.”
pregnant? My sister’s pregnant and she throws up all the time.”
I’m not pregnant!” Cassie growled as she pushed herself off the
ya mad? I’m just asking.”
shot the girl a sideways ‘go throw yourself off a mountain’ look
as staggered upright. Weaving, she said, “I’m not mad. And, I’m
not pregnant!” She stumbled past the chair, then suddenly gripped
its back, “where’s the toilet.”
This way,” the cook stood up, took Cassie by the arm, and moved
toward the door.
Pulling on his restraints, Felis
cursed his luck, takes some kind of damned genius, don’t
it? He shivered. Got
one choice left, don’t you?
Thinking about it too long wouldn’t change a thing. And, while he
didn’t know when his captors would return, he did know he needed to
be ready for them. When transforming, it always helped him to
envision the change as successfully completed. But, as he shivered in
the steel chair, his naked ass clenched against the cold, and his
normally superb ability at forward thinking vanished. He gasped; pain
shot through his ribs and he immediately regretted that breathing was
a necessity. Like back in school, when you’d broken your
wrist. It’s gonna hurt. Laughing,
he said, “oh fuck me. Everything always hurts.” After biting his
lip and glancing over at the unconscious woman, he growled. Slowly
his features began to morph; hair sprouted from his pores, his ears
elongated, and his growl grew into a hiss. Once the transformation
was complete, a large tuxedo cat lay panting on the cold steel chair.
Upon seeing the unconscious and tied up woman, Commander Felis hopped
off the chair, yelped on landing, and remained stationary as he
breathed through the pain. His ragged breaths turned into a guttural
purring, as he rubbed himself across the woman’s calves. Finally,
he hopped into her lap, curled into a ball, and power purred himself
into a mini coma. The drugged security guard never even twitched.
“Gentlemen,” the Inquisitor quietly ordered over his
shoulder, “knock it off. Sound travels and we’re almost there.”
Choking and trying desperately not to breathe in the foul stench
of Vorant’s ass, Jougs muttered, “tell it to Stinky.” Jougs
punched Vorant in the ass. “Nasty.”
“Can I help
it?” Vorant whispered.
“Shhh!” the Inquisitor hissed.
He resumed crawling through the air duct, the
behind him. Using a penlight, he rechecked the map
every junction. Once they reached what he hoped was the right spot,
he carefully edged up to the vent, and motioned for Vorant to pass
him the duffle bag. Cupping the penlight with his hand and shielding
the overhead vent with his body, the Inquisitor dug around in the
bag. When he had what he was looking for, he passed the bag back to
Vorant, and then clicked the penlight from white to red. Shoving the
light into his mouth, he took his tools, and stuck his face as close
to the vent as he could get. It took a minute to maneuver in the
cramped air duct, but once he was properly positioned, he was able to
manipulate the retaining clamps and release the vent cover. With a
bit of effort, he managed to climb out of the air duct and into an
“Where are we?” Jougs asked after
replacing the cover.
“Inside Raven’s Drop, you
asshole,” Vorant growled. The hair all over his body stood at
“Shut up,” the Inquisitor ordered without
looking up from the map where he was using a finger to follow the air
duct. He counted junctions, tapped the map twice while nodding to
himself before heading toward the door at the end of the hall. Upon
reaching the door, he snapped his fingers and pointed to Jougs, who
withdrew his lock picking set from his back pocket and immediately
went to work on the doorknob.
While to two of them were
focused on the door, Vorant paced the hall between them and the vent.
On his third trip, he realized that the placard on the wall was an
Emergency Exit map. When chirping and pointing didn’t get the
Inquisitor’s attention, he whispered harshly, “stop!”
“What?” the Inquisitor mouthed as Jougs continued picking the
“Wrong way,” Vorant mouthed back as he pointed at
The Inquisitor put a hand on Jougs’ shoulder
and showed him a solid fist.
Jougs nodded his
understanding and peeked over the shoulder at Vorant, who’s face
was six inches from the wall. Jougs waited mid-pick for the
Inquisitor’s signal to resume. He watched as the Inquisitor lined
the map up with the wall map and made quick notations. Just as he was
about to resume picking the lock, the Inquisitor motioned for him to
leave the door. Jougs sighed, though he loved conquering locks, he
loved his freedom more. Besides, getting lost in Raven’s Drop was
not on his bucket list.