A/N: Just in case you guys are now wondering how in the world did this "skip", I updated Chapter 1 so that it would have more to it. Feel free to catch up before you start reading this chapter. For those of you that have, please continue reading!
Time had stopped completely for the living, frozen corpse of a man known as Terrance. Nearly all rational thought had been torn away from him when the barrel of the pistol was leveled at his head. The chains of fear and self-preservation had bound every muscle and bone within his body to the earth, keeping him under Death's mercy. His widened, wavering eyes paying no attention to the figure that had spoken up. His entire mind was focused on the death machine pointed at his face. All it would take was one pull of the trigger, and he would be forced into a world of blackness for eternal sleep.
Under normal circumstances, there would be only two options to decide on: fight or flight.
Should he choose the 'fight' response, his goal would be to reach out, grab the barrel of the gun, and force the killing point upwards. After that, it would be a matter of decision as to how he would disable and subdue the man. If he chose the 'flight' response, he would have to strike his enemy in a way that would knock them off-balance before he could take off running. However, in both cases, the risk factor was the other man's reaction time. As far as Terrance was concerned, one twitch of the finger would be enough reason for the gun to fire and leave him a dead man. There was no reason to gamble with his own life based on mere possibilities.
Luckily for Terrance, these weren't normal circumstances. As his eyes drifted towards the gunman, he could see a near-mirror reflection of himself. The gun was connected to a hand with fingerless gloves. He wore a black and hooded sweatshirt with a skeletal design to its body, brown pants fastened with a silver-buckled black belt, and olive-green sneakers with the color white dominating the bottom, lower sides, and the crescent of the tip. His hood was overshadowing his eyes, but the rest of the face showed a young and Caucasian man with a slight frown on his face. While his gun hand was obviously focused on Terrance, the other one was resting casually within his pants pocket.
As Terrance finally began to take in the gunman's appearance, his shocked and apprehensive expression slowly faded to one of irritation. He closed his eyes, letting out a sigh as he raised his hands up in a motion of surrender. "This is starting to get old, Hawk." He voiced. "Just how many more times are you going to point that thing at me before you're satisfied?"
That statement alone was enough to kill the tension in the air immediately. The young man known as Hawk scoffed, lifting the barrel away from Terrance in a holstering motion. "I was just making sure it wasn't someone else that looks like you." He retorted vehemently, shoving his pistol within its makeshift holster – his pants pocket. "It's kind of hard to see when you're in the middle of the dark, you know?"
Terrance cocked an eyebrow, shoving his own hands within his own pants pockets. "So that gives the excuse for you to point guns at everyone you meet?" He retorted. "You should be thankful you don't have a happy trigger finger, otherwise Eagle would have your brains blown out for shooting most of the crew. But, speaking of which...." His eyes drifted down towards the pocket in which the pistol had been placed. "Mind if I take a look at that for a second?"
A rather surprised and questioning look came across Hawk's face. "Uh.... sure, but don't you have your own?" He asked, reaching into his pocket once again.
Once he handed it over to the other boy, it was looked at for a moment. Once Terrance had a good look at the silver-colored design, his slight frown immediately turned into a wide grin. "Nope!" He said enthusiastically, his fingers feeling over every curve and every edge of the gun. "Hell, you must have been lucky to get one of these, man! Beretta 92F... either Joey was in a good mood, or you hit the jackpot!"
Pride swelled up within Hawk, and he allowed a wide grin of his own to cross his face. "Not just any Beretta 92F!" He explained, watching Terrance play with the gun a bit more by pretending it to aim at the trash cans nearby. "A custom Beretta 92FS Inox. You won't find it anywhere else! I've even had my alias and symbol engraved on the slide and handle, just so people would know this is my gun." As Terrance turned the weapon over to its side, he could see the small hawk on the sides of the ivory grip, as well as the name "Hawk" in capital letters on the stainless-steel barrel and slide configuration. The barrel was at least one inch longer than the common Beretta pistol.
Hawk was a bit startled when Terrance turned the gun on him with one hand, pointing the barrel at his head. The dark-skinned boy was grinning in amusement, clearly satisfied out of the reaction he had brought out of the other boy. "Yeah, I suppose you'd get a kick out of the police knowing this was your gun." He remarked, flipping the gun expertly and holding the barrel part of it. The grip was faced towards Hawk. "Now how about we get inside? It's chilly out here."
"You? Chilly?" Hawk repeated, looking incredulously at Terrance as he retrieved the gun and secured it back within his pocket. "You've got to be kidding. I've been sitting around waiting for you to show up so I could come in! Eagle had me on watch for hours, and it was nothing but a total bitch." Turning away from Terrance, he started to walk down the path of the alleyway. "But, either way, thank the Lord you're here. Now I can finally join the party!" Terrance merely rolled his eyes in response, but followed him.
The alleyway itself was rather dismal. The asphalt was littered with trash, pieces of rotten and decaying food lying carelessly at their feet. There was even the occasional mice that Terrance could barely spot in the darkness, scurrying away from the giants and into the abysmal shelters where their own personal food storage and the like was stored. The brick walls were littered with graffiti, consisting of pictures such as a shirtless man with one angelic wing on his back, a falling bird with one of its wings cut off, and even a simple feathered wing. The sound of the breeze going through his body as well as the mechanical sounds of cars and people did not serve to brighten up the environment. Nothing less was expected, for this wasn't an environment for purity and happiness. What the two boys were heading to were the stepping stones that would lead them into a game of survival. Their lives would be pitted, and they would be tested in order to prove themselves enduring of the death-defying challenges that were ahead.
It would be their second home.
The two did not have far to walk. Their feet brought them next to a porch-lit back door of one of the buildings. They didn't need to listen closely to hear the sounds of laughter, chatter, and even arguing. In a nonchalant manner, Hawk raised the back of his hand, balled it into a fist, and rapped the door swiftly. In the door, a closed peephole had its barslide open, revealing a set of eyes that were staring suspiciously at the two.
"What's the password?" Another male voice spoke out to them.
If looks could hurt, the annoyed glare Hawk was giving the man would've broken the majority of his ribs. What had been asked was a completely stupid question. Couldn't the guy see who they were?! "Quit screwing around, man! Open the door; I've got Raven with me!" He snapped, clearly not amused.
The man behind the door wasn't fazed. "All right, all right, come on in...."
With that, the door swiftly opened, revealing another hooded teenager standing there. With a wave of his hand, he motioned the two in. "Eagle's been expecting you two for quite some time." He explained gruffly, turning around and walking in the opposite direction. "He was starting to think Raven wouldn't show up for this." This made Terrance curl his lip indignantly, clearly offended by the man's words.
"Yeah, well, I'm here, aren't I?" He slightly demanded, more than asked. He was still considerably furious at his father for the argument. Maybe he would've been easily swayed away from these feelings if the guy hadn't struck him across the jaw... or better yet, if he had simply kept his mouth shut for the day and left him alone.
In response, the man raised his hands up in defense. "Hey, I'm just saying! You were running a little bit late, so he figured..."
"I slept in. Sue me."
The blunt and rude nature of Terrance's response made Hawk chuckle a little, having to hide a hand behind his mouth in order to keep from laughing fully. A scowl came across the hooded man's face, but he kept walking, keeping his back to them. "Well, that's going to be up to him to decide. I don't have to hold your hands and lead you all the way there, do I?"
"Nope." Hawk inquired, raising both of his eyebrows. "We know where it is."
"Good, because you two are giving me a damn headache....." With that being said, the hooded figure shoved the door open, revealing the source of the activity they had heard from the outside.
Instantly, they were greeted with the atmosphere of a massive party. The room was enlightened with just about every color of the rainbow, courtesy of a mechanical multi-bulb light that was slowly rotating on the ceiling. To the left of them, there was a bar with many stands, filled with people relaxing, talking, and laughing while ordering drinks. To the far right was the source of the loud music: a DJ at the helm of the beat playing songs at will, as well as loud speakers that directed the waves throughout the space. What took up a massive part of the room was the people themselves. They were at the dance floor, letting the rhythm of the music flow through their bodies and direct their movements. The result was a mixture of dancing forms. Some were completely amateur, and others proved themselves to be quite graceful and attractive. But the ones that had served as the audience eye-candy were a mixture of both parties: forms that were wild and reckless, but fell in step with the beat quite naturally. For the dancers, it got the blood and adrenaline flowing through their systems, fueling themselves with the very same passionate fire that was dancing through the nightclub.
For the watchers, it was all the more reason to stay.
Hawk whistled as he and Terrance trudged by the scene, suddenly envious of the partygoers' position. "Look at them go! Hollywood's got some celebrities tonight!" He exclaimed. "After this, I think I might head on over to the bar, take a drink, then join 'em. Eh, Rave?" When his eyes drifted back to Terrance, his heart sank a little when he heard a scoff.
"A drink and dance? I'll be sure to laugh when you fall on your ass."
Soon, they reached the far end of the large room, with an elevator door right in front of them. Terrance, being the first one to the doors, stuffed a hand in one of his sweatshirt pockets and rummaged around. This was no simple elevator that anyone could access. The thing barring entrance to the majority of the people here was a simple card slot beside the call buttons. At the moment, only he and Hawk had the proper keys in order to activate it. A small grin came across the Cooper's face as he whipped out the keycard and slid it in the slit-like hole. This was one of the benefits of being part of the Wings – access to areas that would've normally been impossible to enter!
As he pressed the card in, the machine inside pulled it completely into the slot. There was only a few seconds needed for the object to be processed, before a small green light appeared at the top of the slot. The card was spit back out, allowing Terrance to promptly snatch it from its resting spot. "So, Hawk...." He began casually, stepping into the elevator. "You've been here longer than me. Did Eagle tell you what's going on?"
As Hawk stepped in, he gave Terrance a rather helpless look. "Sorry, man, but all he told me was to keep watch." He admitted, giving a light shrug of his shoulders. "Wish I could say otherwise, but all I know is that Swan's going to be with us when we go."
However, the helpless look faded into a more an amused one as he saw Terrance's face light for a brief moment with relief. He grinned, nudging the other boy with his elbow. "Oh, so having your best friend tag along isn't enough for you, right?" He asked teasingly, fueled even more by his friend's surprised look directed towards him. "You've got to have your girlfriend, too! What, you need something to do when you're bored?"
Terrance scowled. "Hawk...."
"Oh, right. Someone to do--"
"Because you don't have anyone, right?"
This caused Hawk to scoff, folding his arms across his chest. "I don't need anyone, thank you very much! Getting involved in that lovey-dovey crap only drags me down and starts making me feel all sentimental. I don't need that when I'm in a group like this, you know?"
The elevator stopped upon the period of his sentence, and the elevator doors slid open. Terrance turned to give Hawk a rather skeptical eye, before turning back and walking out of the elevator. Hawk's words had been boastful to a great extent. But Terrance knew the truth hidden behind those confident words. It wasn't the kind that covered up a lie, but the type that suppressed feelings that were unnecessary in such situations. What Hawk was speaking was most likely his own truth. But it didn't cover the emotion of fear, the possibility of anxiety sweeping over him in the dangerous midst. Terrance did not allow himself to say anything about it, for it would only cause them both hostility towards each other.
Right now, they needed to work together.
The next hallway they entered was quite small, and its exit was in the form of an office-like room. As Terrance made his careful steps, followed closely by Hawk, he soon reached the doorway. His eyes drifted to the inside, landing themselves onto what was in the back and center of the room.
Sitting at a desk was a Caucasian, medium-bearded man that looked like he was in his early thirties. His own hair was moderately long, his locks going along to the back of his head. His sitting position prevented complete visual aid from being seen, but what could be sighted out was a black and leather trench coat. Standing beside his desk was a young woman about as old as Terrance and Hawk were, hands folded behind her back, and one of her feet bent back so that the toes of her black dress shoes would be touching the floor. She wore an attire suited for the festivities: a sleek, black dress that reached down to cover half of the thigh, the end reaching just above her knees.
Terrance recognized her right away. As soon as their eyes met, his mouth curled upward into a pleased smile, and he made his way towards her. But he didn't have to walk far, for as he made this motion, the girl was making her way towards him in a slight jog. "Jeez, you're late!" She complained to him, stopping once she got in front of him. "I was starting to think you slept in!" But her light tone ensured forgiveness for his "crime". He leaned in as she tilted her head to the side, allowing him to plant a kiss on the cheek.
"I almost did." He admitted, moving in to the other to place another kiss before pulling away.
"Have a seat, boys."
The calm command stated by the man was followed by a motion towards two chairs in front of him. They obliged, making themselves comfortable. Hawk scooted his own chair a little closer to the desk and rested his arms onto it. The girl stood off to the side of Terrance, retaining her previous idle position. All of them were giving the man a look of expectation, waiting for the words of debriefing to pour from his mouth.
The man's eyes drifted to what was below the desk surface, his hand lowering for a moment. "I'm not someone who favors long speeches before bringing up the storm, so I'll cut this short. Recently, the number of my men being apprehended by the police has been on the rise. Normally, I would've taken this to be because those guys were too stupid not to get caught, and we could've been in our own business like usual." The lowered hand raised itself up to reveal a yellow-brown folder with the edges of papers sticking out of it. Terrance eyed it carefully.
"So? What's the problem here, Eagle?" Hawk asked suspiciously, cocking an eyebrow. "What makes this so special?"
The folder was tossed down onto the desk. Eagle's hand reached and opened up the cover completely to reveal the face of what was to be their newfound enemy. It was a man of Native American descent, apparently scowling at whoever had taken the picture of him. He had long and black hair that was tied back in a ponytail behind his head. There was a large gash that ran diagonally down his left eye and extended to the corner of his nose. While his untainted and glaring eye was onyx in color, the damaged one was tainted with decaying infection that had spread over a little to the lids.
The girl cringed in disgust, body shivering a little as she looked at the picture. "Oh, god…." she muttered, placing a hand to her mouth in a sign of nervousness. "What in the world happened to his eye?"
Eagle smiled wryly. "The guy was fighting another gang member on a run when the guy whipped out a knife and sliced the ball right clean." He explained. "I'd pity the son of a bitch… but, right now, he's my biggest problem." He lifted a finger to tap the picture a few times. "The guy's callsign was Blackbird. But his name's Gene Tillquist, twenty five years old. Though he's still on the run as much as we are, he's also sending information about our hits to the police. That's the primary reason we haven't been able to run in secret anymore. If he keeps this up, we're going to have to resort to more direct methods in order to deal with the law."
"When do we kill him?"
Hawk's voice immediately called itself out at the end of Eagle's sentence. It had been quite obvious from the moment that Eagle had shown the picture, this "Blackbird" was destined to die. Going against the Wings was one thing. But outright betrayal was a much bigger issue and threat. Therefore, this rogue voice that dared to speak out had to be silenced. As one of the people who would take part in suppressing it, a slight and sadistic pleasure raced through his mind. Already, he could picture the bone of his fists breaking and jarring teeth, the defiance and fear....
Sadly, his hopes were cut short by Eagle's next words. "You don't." He answered calmly, albeit smiling a little at the statement of anticipation. "You're going to go to his hideout and find out how much information he's leaked to the police. How you get it is completely up to you, but I want him brought back alive. Go against these orders....," He leaned forward, eyes narrowing in a hardened stare. The blackness of the bottomless pits that were called eyes fixated themselves on the one that was leaning on his desk so casually, and that one immediately froze, fear flashing across his eyes. "And.... well, let's just say I'll be having plans for you when he get back." He finished, his tone daring any one of them to show a sign of defiance.
Hawk recoiled back, pulling his arms off of the desk and sitting back in his chair as far as possible in an attempt to get away from that menacing glare without looking completely afraid. Terrance smiled a little at this apparent threat, not fazed at all. What did he have to fear? All he had to do was play his part, and all they had to do was the same. "Where's his hideout located?" He brought up the next question in a natural manner, prompting Eagle to push the picture away and reveal the second paper underneath. There was a basic overview of Bakersfield with a marker placed on a certain spot of the map. All of them scooted closer in order to see what it was.
"He travelled far, but we've managed to track him to Bellflower High School." Eagle pointed to the marker. "Apparently, the guy's chosen to go where no one in their right minds would even take a step three miles near. Supposedly, there's been paranormal activity happening over there. The owners, after so much talking about the whole thing, got too spooked and hauled ass out of there. The building's been abandoned ever since."
A light-hearted chuckle escaped Hawk's lips, and he casually leaned back into his chair. "So, the guy's gone and made himself at home with the ghosts? He must be out of his mind."
The boss nodded. "He has good reason. Ever since he broke away from the Wings, he's been paranoid about being caught. That brings me to my second point: the situation. Not only has he been selling info about our operations, he's also managed to convince some of my men to join up with him and act as his protection. This is the reason why I wanted you here at night-time, when number of obstacles are lower than normal. Get inside, get the guy, get what you need, and then get out of there as quickly as possible. What you'll need will be in my car, so grab what you can before we get there. This is one of those times where you've got to play hide-and-seek with your enemy in order to get to where you want, so what you pick has to fit the situation. Is that understood?"
"Completely." Terrance replied coolly, folding his arms across his chest.
"That's it, then." Eagle moved back into his chair, closing the folder and grabbing it from the desk. "If you'd be so kind as to follow me...." Slowly, he rose from his chair and turned away from them, revealing brown dress pants and choloroframe shoes. He stuffed his hands within his trenchcoat pockets, his walking gait radiating authority. This was the reason the three teens were a bit hesitant to follow at first. But it was only out of respect, not out of fear. They all knew where they had come from, who they were, and why they did what they did. But this was a man that thrived in the shadows of death, deception, and sin. The only true thing they could safely assume him to be was their superior, and nothing more.
But he was capable of doing his job. At the moment, that was all that mattered.
They only needed to be concerned about doing their own.
Out of the traffic that was constantly sweeping the highways, the only car that would dare to stick out in the dark night was the sleek design of a Honda Civic Si Coupe prowling across the roads. Unlike its brethren who roared viciously as they raced across the asphalt, it made little to no noise and crept through the moving maze of metal and rubber. Yet, its immense speed coupled with its maneuverability allowed for maximum versatility and flexibility, making it a shadow weaving through the congested flow. There was no time wasted in its movements – something that proved to be an advantage to its occupants.
Raven sat in the passenger's and looked out the window in an idle fashion. For the mission, he had acquired some newfound objects in order to prepare himself. There were leather gloves on his hands in order to keep his fingerprints from being detected. Behind him were Hawk and Swan, who were sitting in their own idle positions. Swan had her hands folded behind her head, her fingers entangled in her own hair strands, and her legs crossed with her feet against the lower second against driver's seat. She had obtained her own minor change: as well as the same kind of leather gloves that Raven had been wearing, she was also sporting a dark purple, long-sleeved, and hooded sweatshirt. Her eyes were closed, and she appeared to be sleeping. Hawk, out of the three passengers, seemed to be the most alert. He was sitting in an upright position, hands on his lap and fingers drumming against his thighs.
As he turned off into an exit route, Eagle began to speak once more. "You're going to have to make this quick." He said tersely, his eyes looking around the road. "I'm seeing a lot more marked cars out here than normal, and it's only getting thicker as we get closer. Hopefully, they haven't beaten us to the location just yet."
"And if they have?" Raven inquired.
"Same hide-and-seek rules apply. No matter what happens, we can't start going all out. If they're already at the school, I can only take you so close. I'll be waiting to pick you up at the exact same spot where I park, so remember the location."
After that was said, it was mostly a ride of silence. As the car grew closer to its destination, the apprehensive tension was starting to spread across its insides like a cancer through the organs. Swan slowly opened her eyes, lowering one of her arms to her sides. The other hand went up to the spot where her rapidly beating heart would've been, fingers tightening a little. She exhaled a small sigh, her eyes averting to the window just in time to spot a patrol car riding by. "Yeah, because I really don't want to get in trouble with the police…."
Hawk, despite his own nervousness, managed a smirk in her direction. His head craned towards her with his eyes half-lidded and one of his eyebrows raised. "Oh…. really?" He drawled, voice mocking. "What's the matter? Afraid that you're going to be marked as the next "good girl gone bad"? You trying to be the next Rihanna?" He chuckled, and Swan's head snapped in his direction to glare at him.
"If I was afraid of that, I wouldn't have bothered joining the Wings at all, now would I?" She snapped, folding her arms across her chest. In exchange, Hawk playfully raised his hands up in mock surrender.
"Hey, no need to bite my head off! It was just a joke, girl!"
The scorn immediately faded, and Swan gave a smirk of her own. "You know what else is a joke?" She asked, lifting her finger and swung it lightly towards Hawk. "You in history class." The mirth inside of her increased a bit more, but it immediately came to the surface in the form of laughter when she earned a dumbfounded and slightly hurt look directed towards her. "What do you do in there other than ticking off the teacher?"
Hawk's upper lip curled up in annoyance, and he huffed. "She ticks me off, thank you very much!" He argued, throwing his hands up in the air. "She always acts like she's got a stick shoved up her ass! I swear she's just chewing me out just for the fun of it! Did you know that even though I got all my answers on a worksheet right, she gave me an F and called me a smart-aleck for it—"
"Wait a minute." Samantha pressed a finger to her chin, promptly interrupting the sentence. "This wouldn't happen to be that paper about the three branches of government, would it? Chapter 3, Section 1?"
"That's the one!"
There was a moment of silence. Then, Swan shook her head and let out a piteous sigh. "Hawk.... that was the one you were showing me a few days ago and had me look over because you were complaining about the exact same thing." She said tiredly, lowering her hand back to her side again. "I was looking over it, and yeah, you did get most of the questions that you could answer correct—"
"—but seriously. No one goes over a question, gets stumped, then just write down Chuck Norris and move on! That's the worst thing you could've done while going over your homework!"
Hawk snorted, leaning back against the seat and folding his arms across his chest. "Says you." He retorted haughtily. "Chuck Norris is the answer to all of our problems." It was clear he was joking, as he was unable to suppress the upward curving of the corners of his mouth. Out of the giddiness he was feeling, he placed his hands behind his head. "He cured cancer, he can make the earth move with his own push-ups, he killed a man with his butt cheeks—"
"—And he's a friggin' actor!" Swan exclaimed. "Not to mention he's 60 years old and whatnot!"
Raven let out an annoyed grunt, slapping a palm up to his face and hanging his head. Not only was plagued by tension due to the police's presence, he was now tortured by his companions' worthless bicker! Desperately, his shielded eyes searched to the roads they were driving on for comfort. "Are we there yet….?" He managed to mutter dully, prompting a short laugh from Eagle.
Once they turned the corner, however, the color drained from Raven's face. Up ahead of them, a patrol car was parked right in front of where the school would've been. They weren't in range to see the school, but the threat ahead of them was all too clear. "Oh, shit…." The boy muttered, lowering his hands to reveal the disturbed expression on his face. His words prompted Hawk and Swan to jump out of their conversation and look up out of curiosity. The boy even leaned forward to grab the inner corners of the driver and passenger's seat in order to get a better view.
"What's the problem?"
"The police beat us to the school." Eagle reported calmly, slowing down his speed and making a slight turn towards the sidewalk. He pressed his foot on the brake, gently parking behind a conveniently placed car. "This is your stop. I saw two cops standing in front of that cruiser just up ahead, but it doesn't look like there are any more other than that. If we're lucky, this'll be the only law enforcement you'll have to deal with. I'll see you at the pick-up place."
With those words being spoken to them, the three exited the car and shut the door behind them, with Swan giving a small wave of "good-bye" for now. As they stepped onto the sidewalk, the Honda drove off silently to another unknown location. Raven's eyes shifted to the path in front of them, with the two police officers a good distance away. "All right…. act natural and keep close." He ordered, shoving his hands within his pockets. He took the first steps forward, with Swan and Hawk keeping a close pursuit of him.
As they neared, Raven couldn't help but turn his head to the side and raise an amused eyebrow at the woman at his left side and the man on her left side. He knew it was going to become a tense situation quickly. Still, it didn't stop a rather humorous joke from spawning through his lips. "Jeez, Swan… don't you realize that with that dress on, you look more of like a ho than anything else?"
Swan puffed out one of her cheeks in annoyance. "Bite me, you jerk." She grumbled, though the slightly teasing lace could not hide itself within.
"Nah, man!" Hawk piped in, grinning widely and lifting a waving finger towards the two of them. "You've got it all wrong. The way we're walking, we're the ones who look like hoes, don't we?" This was followed by a moderately loud laugh, and Raven couldn't help but chuckle himself. However, Swan had completely brought out the complete giddiness within them when she extended her arms and wrapped each one around both of their shoulders.
"Yep!" She chirped. "You two are going to be my hoes tonight, all right?"
"Oh, I would be your ho any day." Raven whispered coyly, leaning his head against her shoulder. This caused them all to start laughing, uncaring of the surrounding environment
This caused them all to start laughing, uncaring of the surrounding environment. It also caused the pair of officers to turn a rather curious eye. But the three teens paid no attention as they walked towards them in order to pass them by. It only took a few seconds for the patrolmen to turn back towards each other and continue their conversation. Had they not been concerned with their own situation, they would've noticed the oddity of three young teenagers walking around in the dead of mid-night. They would've easily questioned the fact that they were wearing hooded sweatshirts. They would've been prepared.
But, fate had pulled a cruel joke onto them.
When the first shift was made, there was no time to react. Raven, the one nearest to the first officer, broke away from Swan's hold. One hand reached out and clasped itself onto the surprised man's mouth, while gleaming and sharpened steel punched into his chest. He could feel the crimson liquid spill onto his hands, the liquid life extinguished from the body. Slitted eyes stared in to ones of shock and awe, and the latter's matched that of his partner's. That man's hand lunged forward, attempting to subdue Raven in a futile attempt to prevent his companion from embracing death. But he didn't go far, as Hawk had allowed himself to break off from Swan as well. With his own hidden blade, he aimed it for a more disruptive place. His weapon ripped into the back of the skull and out through the flesh, and he fell from existence much quicker. The two boys pulled their weapons out of his target's flesh, and both of their corpses dropped to the ground at the same time in an unceremonious manner.
No words spoken for the dead, and no witnesses to discover their deaths.
"Let's get these out of sight." Raven instructed.
Seizing them at the limbs, both he and Hawk dragged the men off the sidewalk and onto the road, slowly sliding the bodies under the car. Swan lowered her own arms, averting her eyes and body away from the scene. She looked over the building, fore-thinking what she could as she analyzed the structure. It seemed as if there was little to no signs of activity inside of the building. However, if one looked closely, they could see the occasional light flicker against one of the window panes before it burned out once again. She bit her lip, folded her arms across her chest with her hands on her elbows, took in a deep breath and spoke to the two boys behind her. "It doesn't look like the place's very guarded...." She murmured. "If anything, we can just go in through the front doors and walk straight to Gene without much trouble...."
"Well, then what are we waiting for?" Hawk asked haughtily, standing up from his crouched position beside the car and walking past the girl. She was immediately about to protest out of the fact that just walking right in would've been too risky even with her statement, her eyes widening in his direction and her mouth agape slightly. However, when her eyes fell onto the wicked grin on his face, she shut up right then and there before she could say anything. Such a face was expressing excitement that was dominant and an anticipation that was not ready to be quelled. Words would not be able to suppress his emotions at this point. The best thing she could do at the moment was let him open the door and storm right in, lest she wanted to cause problems.
Hawk reached the doors, grasping the cold knob and turning it. Then, upon discovering that it was unlocked, he slowly and quietly opened it. His bloodied knife was held in a backhand position, and the hand gripping it trembled slightly. As he crept in, his eyes searched around. By the looks of things, it appeared to have been abandoned for quite some time. Things were scattered across the floor and covered in dirt, dust, and cobwebs. Glass stands that formerly contained trophies and public awards now lay shattered and broken across the ground. He snapped his head over his shoulder, using his knife-wielding hand to motion the other two forward. They obliged quietly, falling in as quietly as they could.
But there was one thing that kept it from being deathly silent: a steady clomping noise of one's footsteps.
Swan was the first to notice this. She looked down, gritting her teeth slightly. "Damn it...!!" She muttered, lowering herself down. "Hang on just a minute, I need to get rid of these heels."
Hawk snickered. "God, you are such a girl...." He whispered mockingly. "Heels?"
"Shut up. Just go on ahead, I'll catch up...."
"Yes, ma'am." After that last quip, Hawk took point and fully crept inside. Raven was close behind him. "These guys are amateurs. No guards at the front door or in the lobby. No cameras going off, either. Not even a tripwire.... you'd think that for a guy who's so paranoid about people catching him, he'd have a lot more security than this. Not to mention that they're supposed to be former Wing members. You think they're going soft?"
"Don't get over your head...." Raven muttered, stopping for a moment to allow Swan to keep close to them. "There's going to be a lot more than just two police officers standing in between us and the prize. Stick together and keep quiet. No use of our pistols unless it gets too hot. You guys understand?"
They moved like phantoms, picking a nearby hallway and moving through the rows of metal lockers. They attempted to keep as silent as possible while maintaining a considerable speed. Raven lead the way, while Swan and Hawk kept behind him in a single file line. The dark-skinned male kept his eyes peeled, his ears perked, and his weapon at the ready. Already, he could hear the voices of the enemy as he maneuvered through the worn-down and artificial tunnels. Yet, he didn't obtain any visual just yet. The sounds seemed to be echoing, the waves bouncing off the walls and into his ears. The stained blade in his hand tightened instinctively as their incoherent words reached his mind. The volume of the noise as well as the shape and density of the hallways made it nearly impossible to tell the direction in which the source was.
Were the traitors behind him? Were they in front of him? Were they off to the side?
Oh, god, he was losing his mind.... and the ghosts weren't even there to help!
"Ew... hey guys! I think I found something!"
The wonderful and whispering voice of Swan had snapped Raven out of his paranoid thoughts immediately and back into reality, right in front of a fork in the road - a horizontal hallway. He turned his head around, eyes trying to get a fix. But because they had trekked so far into the depths of the school, the light that would've been there had virtually abandoned them to their own devices. How Swan and Hawk had been following him, he would never know. But now that he had allowed himself to get a good look around, he could see little to nothing in the darkness they were swamped in. The very least he caught of his comrades was their outlines and disfigured shapes standing behind him.
Hawk, the one nearest to him, turned around fully to face Swan. She had her head hung, apparently looking at what looked like some sort of fallen object. "What is it?"
"I don't know...." The tone in the girl's voice was uncertain. She lifted her foot up to nudge it in an attempt to jar their recognition skills, but to no avail. "It's too dark to see and I don't exactly have a flashlight with me." She reached into one of her sweatshirt pockets. "But.... I think.... I might have something to compensate....Erm...." For a moment, she seemed to be lost, until she finally yanked out something from her person - a cell phone. "Here we go! Now...." She hunched over the foreign object, pointing the LCD screen at it. Both boys could practically hear the smile on her face.
"Show me the money, honey." Chuckling a little, the girl clicked the phone on, shone the light onto her target....
....and nearly dropped her phone out of shock.
What she had mistaken to be a simple foreign object was lying on its side, the arm closest to the floor sprawled out in a lazy angle. The opposite arm was resting on its waist. Not only did she see dust on it, but she also saw dull red stains on its torso. The rugged, unshaven face of a male was what took the brunt of the cell phone's light, revealing pale white skin and pupil-less eyes that stared blankly and eternally. If she had directed the light to the rest of the body, she would've noticed the half-equipped flak jacket and munitions belt fixed onto their respective places. However, the face was enough to cause her hand to shake. She let out a shuddering breath, dizziness overtaking her in an instant. The light-headed feeling that swept over her caused her to lose control of her motor functions and fall off to the side, unconsciousness overtaking her.
A set of strong arms managed to snap her out of it. Her eyes snapped open, and she instinctively grabbed on to the wrist that was hooked around her person. "Woah, there...." The voice of Raven spoke gently, keeping her propped up on her two feet. "You all right?" Due to the close proximity, he could feel her body slightly shaking. He knew that this would not be enough to completely shake her nerves. After all, they had seen such things before as a result of being in the Wings as long as they had been. But it didn't mean that all of them could get easily used to the environments they constantly traveled into. Therefore, it was a necessity to give teammates moral support when needed. He didn't let go of her immediately, remaining quiet and listening to her hesitant breaths as she attempted to re-gain herself.
"Y...yeah....I...." She managed to stutter out, but could only get that far before shutting herself up in order to deeply breathe.
"Sshh.... get it together." His voice was slightly stern, yet still held a welcoming aura within. "Dead guys aren't the best things to stare at, but we've got a lot more than that to worry about. Take a few photos - Eagle's gonna want everything that's worth value about this little operation." Slowly, he pulled himself away from her once he was sure that she was stable, stepping back and moving out of her line of sight. He snapped his head towards Hawk's shady figure, raising a finger to point. "Hawk, check those hallways. I've got the opposite direction." Hawk nodded, lowering himself to a crouch on the nearest wall and peeking around the corner.
Hesitantly, Swan looked over the bodies as she shone her light on them once more. She reached into her pocket and pulled out yet another device: a camera. Using the light as a target designator, she aimed the camera towards the face with a slightly shaky hand. It took a few moments to display the image perfectly onto the screen of her camera, but she managed to sight out a perfect shot and snapped the picture. "Rave...." She whispered nervously, her eyes flashing with anxiety as she looked onto the captured image. "You might want to check this out...." Immediately, Raven turned back around and cocked an eyebrow at her.
Swan shook her head. "These bodies aren't just regular people. They're S.W.A.T. members." She explained slowly, scanning the light across a second body scattered across the floor. The clothes fitting were different. But it too sported a bloodied and shot-up flak jacket that signaled police and/or military affiliation. As she continued to scan across the dusty ground, she picked up two additional dead cops parallel to the previous two. "And I think all of them died recently. Otherwise, they would've stunk up the place by now." She was thankful her eyes couldn't see the detail of the rest of them. But she could already assume that they had attained the same grisly visage of the first body she laid eyes on.
She nearly jumped at the sudden, vicious response that Raven had given her in return.
"You've got to be kidding me...!" He hissed, romping over towards one of the bodies, crouching over, and shoved his hands onto the torso. "If they've only been dead for a short while, then that means this was probably just a damn patrol. If we don't hurry this up, we're going to get trapped between them and Blackbird's little mini--"
His enraged statement was abruptly cut off at the sight of light coming down the right hallway. Eyes widening, he snapped his head towards Hawk who had already hidden himself from view. "Four-man patrol. Flashlights. Coming slowly from the right." He reported quickly, bits of panic slipping in between his tense. "What do we do, Raven? We can't double back - the hallway's too long!"
Immediately, Raven threw aside his frustration at the S.W.A.T. presence and attended himself to the more pressing manners. He spun around, his body landing onto the ground in a prone position. "Lay with the dead." He ordered. "Keep out of direct sight and do not strike." It was a huge risk he was taking. Even as they scrambled to get on the ground and play possum, his biggest concern was that if the enemy looked too closely, it would discover their ploy. The three would be helpless to stop the bullets from being shot through their bodies. Blackbird would be alerted to the Wings' presence, and he would escape. The evidence of their corpses would cripple the Wings. On top of that, the thought of having a gun being pointed at his head while in such a position caused his heart's pumping to accelerate and his skin to perspire. He was certain that if he was a lesser man, he would have died of a heart attack long ago.
He could safely say that paranoia was not a good friend to have.
The speed at which the lights were brightening only served to increase that apprehensive and gangrene-like feeling across his skin. He found it increasingly difficult to keep his breath steady, as it was threatening to expose him with its audible pattern. He desperately wanted to pull out his Desert Eagle and start firing, to unleash the power of such a dangerous weapon upon his enemies. But he knew that if he did, he would be costing them their lives. They were trusting him to stay silent and to remain in the shadows in order to keep their lives from the grasp of death. They were trusting him to keep them safe. But the speed of which their foes were approaching was driving him mad! Did they already know about foreign presence? Were they simply using psychological methods in order to break the teens down? Why were they taking their time walking down--
His eyes finally caught sight of the first foot that appeared in front of him, breaking his irrational thinking pattern. He jerked his face downward towards the floor before the light shining within the hallway could blind him completely. There was no change of the temperature in the environment. But he could've sworn that his body had lost all of its heat now. He felt shivers threatening to overtake him, but he fiercely fought them down and stood as still as the corpses around him. As he hid, he could hear the voices that escaped from the throats of the hunters.
"Woah. Almost forgot about these poor niggas...." remarked one, scanning the bodies with the ray. This caused the other three to stop in their tracks. He could hear the slight mutter of "Fuck..." from hawk, but paid no mind to it.
"What?" Asked another. Raven could clearly hear a Mexican accent within. "Are you sympathizing for these punk soldiers?"
"No, no.... but, they did get torn up. It just makes you wanna wince a little, man."
"Whatever.... if you're done staring at dead bodies, can we hurry up and--"
"Hey, hold up a minute, man! What are these guys doing here?"
Raven could've sworn that his racing heart had stopped without warning. Now, the dreaded footsteps were coming their way, their flashlights becoming brighter and brighter. He kept his head down, knowing that his face would be the most difficult to hide from their looks. He could feel their presence as they stepped over their stiff bodies, scanning even more closely. A million thoughts were racing throughout his head at once. Were his teammates feeling the same, paranoid way that he was feeling right now? Were they suffering under the possible threat of extermination and execution? He could practically feel the barrels pointed at his head, the triggers under tightened index fingers, and the analyzation of their judgemental eyes! He prayed it to be over soon, for if he had to spent one more minute under that prison, he would break into a thousand pieces.
Thankfully, his prayers were answered. The one that was holding him hostage spoke to his comrades once more. "Come on. They look quite dead to me. Wherever these Wing losers came from, they got screwed over big time." The flashlight immediately faded away, but the presence of his enemy still lurked within the area. "You're just being stupid again, Tesla. Having us stare at dead bodies just to make sure they're dead--"
"Hey, my bad, alright?! You mind not jumping on me for every little thing?!" The so-called Tesla spoke in a defensive manner.
"Yeah, yeah.... let's go, Jesse. Tesla and Barney can stay here to watch the bodies rot."
Finally! Raven's ears could pick up two pairs of footsteps walking away, leaving the other two (judged by the words spoken) to stand guard over the bodies. Slowly, he raised his head up and checked the scene, making sure not to attract attention from the remaining sentires. It seemed as if they had been scanning over Swan and Hawk while the Mexican had attended to him. Thankfully, that pair had failed to detect the signs of life, and their interest was soon lost. His eyes caught their legs as they walked in the direction in which the trio had came from. However, as they did so, he also caught Hawk as he stood up slowly, the shadow of his knife gripped tightly in one hand. One of Hawk's arms raised up to motion towards Swan, who crept up from her own prostrate stance as well. Keeping low and ignorant of Raven's surprise, they moved past him and towards the backs of the retreating guards. Temptation coming over him, he quietly pushed himself onto his back in order to get a better view of what was going on.
He couldn't see clearly. But he did hear the sound of metal stabbing into flesh as his allies came into swift contact with his enemies. He did hear the small drops of blood as metal ruptured blood vessels and veins. He did see the guards collapse, not a scream having the opportunity to be uttered from either of their lips. That gave him the unspoken permission to arise from the cold ground and dust himself off. Dismissing the fact that they probably wouldn't be able to see it, he narrowed his eyes and gave an annoyed scowl at the both of them. "You could've told me you guys were going to do that. You know, to prepare me ahead of time?" He could practically feel the grin seep onto Hawk's face.
"Yeah, but where would the fun be in that?" With that being said, the knife-holding boy turned towards Swan, motioning over to the two bodies. "Swan, let's see these bodies. I can't see a damn thing in the dark, but I can tell they sure as hell aren't wearing our kind of colors."
"Right....." Swan obliged, pulling out her phone and turning it on.
The light shone down onto the two bodies, allowing for full inspection. As Raven walked over, all of their eyes looked over their foes. They were wearing forms of civilian clothing, both of them male. One was of African-American descent, while the other was Caucasian. Signs of gang affiliation such as tattoos on the arms and face were evident. But the thing that had caught their eye was the fact that they were even wearing bulletproof vests similar to that of the S.W.A.T. team. All-in-all, this created a mercenary-type rogue setting for their uniforms. Though the "rogue" part was quite fitting for their role, it was out of the ordinary to see such military gear donned onto simple gang members. As Swan pulled the camera out to aim at the body she was targeting, Hawk let out a low whistle as he checked out the gear.
"Whew.... just look at this, man...." He bent over to pick up one of ths weapons that the guards had been holding. It was an M16 rifle with a suppressor attached to the barrel. "Flak jackets, assault rifles, back-up magazines, suppressors.... these guys are ready for a war. I know Blackbird's paranoid, but this is just plain overkill, isn't it?"
"There's no such thing as overkill when it's your life on the line." Raven answered, sparing a glance over at Hawk's direction. "We got a bathroom nearby?"
"Uh....yeah.....? Why do you ask.....?"
Raven smirked, tilting his head from side to side in a manner of mental preparation. "It's my time to pull a little espionage...." He declared, kneeling down to the corpse's level. "I'm going to rob this guy of his armor and head right into the place. But I'm going to need a partner. Swan, you mind being my little prisoner for the moment?"
"Uh, you trying to tell me something?"
He could tell Swan was cocking an eyebrow at him, mouth slightly agape in a clear expression of skepticism. However, her tone showed mirth, and that was enough to make him smile wider. He shifted his gaze towards what was assumed to be her figure. She had put away her equipment and placed her hands on her waist, her body faced towards him. "Oh, maybe.... maybe not...." He answered coyly. "But either way, I'm going to need someone to watch my back while I change clothes. Hawk..." He lifted a finger to point in Hawk's direction. "You keep going forward and look for Blackbird. We'll catch up with you later."
Unfortunately, Raven hadn't caught the shocked look that came over his friend's face. "W-what?!" He snapped incredulously, causing the other two to recoil back out of surprise. "You can't be serious! You want to spend time with your girlfriend and send me into the lions' den by myself?!"
Now it was Raven's turn to scowl. "No, Hawk." He quipped irritably, pinching the bridge of his nose and hanging his head a little. "I'm pretty sure that you can take care of yourself. You didn't need my help stepping foot in this place, so you don't need me holding your hand every step of the way. Now quit your whining--" At this, his voice took on a more stern tone. He raised a finger to point towards the horizontal hallway split. "--and get the hell out of here! The longer we wait, the more time we waste to find that son of a bitch!"
"Ugh!" Knowing that it was pointless to argue and that he seemed to be outvoted, Hawk sharply turned away from the two and stormed off. As his figure disappeared into the shadows, Swan looked after him with concern and pity. She turned her head towards the remaining male.... or rather, the remaining male that was still alive. "You think that was a bit too harsh....?" She asked quietly. "If all of them are armed like this, a pistol isn't going to be enough to stop them if they spot him out...."
Raven leaned over to grasp the body of one of the fallen corpses, latching his hands onto the undersides of the arms and pulling backwards. "Life is a bitch...." He retorted indifferently, holding his breath and yanking against gravity. With considerable effort, he began to drag the body away, the sticky red fluid leaving a trail behind him. "If he can't accept that, then he doesn't belong in the Wings." The harsh statement cut deeply at Swan's heart, and she unconsciously placed a hand to her chest, fingers tightening at her own skin. Sadly, what he spoke was the truth. This was the life of the outcast, where actions of the exiled were welcomed and the sins of the damned were the keys to survival. Therefore, such situations were considered normal for people like them. Still, knowing that didn't ease her worry. Hawk was a friend, and she wouldn't be able to just ignore it and move on if he had gotten himself killed.
Slowly, she followed her boyfriend as he dragged the carcass to the doorway of the bathroom. However, she stopped immediately before she could go completely in. In turn, this caused him to stop and quirk an eyebrow. She gave him a vexed look, folding her arms across her chests. "What? You think I'm going to follow you into the boy's bathroom? I don't care if it is abandoned. There are boundaries." She used her finger to mark an invisible line between her and Raven before returning her arms across her chest. In exchange, he rolled his eyes and scoffed a little before dragging the body inside with him. This gave her the permission to stand just outside of the doorway and lean against the wall, head hung a little and legs crossed.
For a few minutes, it was nothing but complete silence. Her eyes scanned the darkened hallways, trying to peer through the darkness for the ones that would prove to be a threat to their existence. She slipped her knife in a backhanded position, the blade's tip pointing downward and poking out through her folded arms. She began to tap her toes a little, grimacing at the cold feeling of dusty and cold concrete against the skin of her soles. It was really unfortunate that she had decided on poor foreshadowing to wear high heels. If she had known that this mission would require complete silence as a tool, she would've gladly switched shoes. But she knew that would be the least of her worries in the case of a loaded gun pointed straight at her. Still, she hated the grimy feeling of the abandoned school floor. She hated the possibility of being shot and killed on sight.
And she hated to be bored.
Sadly, the silence was getting to be just that: boring.
"Sooo....." She said slowly, biting her bottom lip and directing her gaze towards the doorway. "What's up?"
Abruptly, Swan gaped at the response. "W...what? I haven't even asked you anything yet!" She exclaimed, unfolding her arms up to throw them into the air. "What in the world do you mean, "nope"?!"
"You're going to ask me to buy you a new pair of shoes again." Raven's rather dull voice escaped the bathroom and stopped at her eardrums. "There's my answer: nope."
"Ugh! You're such a....butt...." Unable to come up with a retort, Swan sank down to the floor, placing her palms flat on the floor on her sides. But she instantly regretted it, as the cold sensation that was overtaking her feet immediately shot through her uncovered legs. She let out a gasping hiss, reflexively pulling her legs up to her chest. "Bad idea, bad idea....!" She mentally scolded herself, wrapping her arms around her thighs in an attempt to regain lost body heat. "Y-you know, I could've been trying to tell you something else!"
"Like what? Like how beautiful this school is right now?"
"Or how much your dog just loves to chew on my hand every time I visit?"
"Maybe you want to say how much you love me."
The corners of Swan's lips curled upward, and she scoffed a little. "Well, maybe I was thinking of another guy." She retorted. "Maybe I just wanna throw you in the river and get me another fish!" Her spirits lifted a little when she heard his laughter, her jest having gotten to him quite easily. This caused her to grin wider, and she pushed the long stands of her hair behind her head in an instinctive move.
"Oh, really....?" Raven sounded rather smug, a pressuring curiosity in his words. "Like who?"
Swan's line of thought stopped immediately."....I'll have to get back to you on that." was what she considered to be a pathetic comeback. The smile on her face faded, and she let her face fall onto her knees. One of her feet began to tap at the floor, the nerves slightly numbed by the constant chills racing through the skin. "In the meantime, could you hurry up? I'm freezing my butt off!"
Once she heard those footsteps get close to her, she slowly stood up and looked into his direction. Just to satisfy curious reasons, she pulled out her cellphone and turned the screen on to shine the light on his body. The hoodie he had been wearing was removed, exposing a black T-shirt underneath. Without the hood, she couldn't help but notice how much more handsome he looked, particularly in the case of his fresh-cut hair and the increased prominence of his chocolate brown eyes. In his gloved hands, he carried what was a silenced MP5K gun, holding the handle and trigger part with one hand. She had to avert her eyes away for a moment in an attempt to hide the slight color of red that had dominated her face. However, he had noticed it. Grinning widely, he placed a hand on her shoulder to turn her around.
"Shall we, my little prisoner?"
She shook her head in good humor, but voluntarily placed her hands behind her back. "Whatever you say, officer." She fired back, her mouth curling upward into a leer. She felt his free hand grasping a hold onto her wrists, a force that he exerted gently pushing her forward. They walked down the hallway opposite of where Hawk himself had ran through, trying to look as nonchalant as possible. It was going to be a test of stealth, intelligence, and survival. If they slipped up even once, their whole mission would fail, and they would be executed. They would have to ignore their hearts beating ferociously against their chests in order for the plan to work. In addition, they had to keep Hawk's safety out of their mind. Even if he was killed, they still had to continue the mission at all costs.
It was times like this, one could wonder how only teenagers could have such hardened minds.
A/N: Finally! I managed to finish this! It was so friggin' exhausting, but I finally managed to get this posted! By the way, this story is also on .com/ . Just look up "Evolution" and click the story with the default Bookmato cover on it. Read and review!