After the usual ‘I’m not really dead’ conversation with Johnny, I was able to get a hold of a spare set of keys to almost every room in Tryst Tower. Johnny was as surprised as Walter, but later decided that he should have known all along. He said I was like a cockroach; you can’t just step on one and expect it to die. I always liked Johnny, and we had a nice visit as he filled me in on all the rumors going around the Tower. The going word at the time right before he left was that Olivia and Trystix were having some serious marital trouble. Trystix didn’t want word of it getting out to the public, so he fired anyone who even mentioned it. Then he fired anyone who had heard the rumors. Hence, Johnny was unemployed and full of bitterness.
I hopped on my bike and rode down some familiar streets. I drove past my old stomping grounds; down familiar streets and new buildings being built…Buildings owned by Trystix. Buildings I made possible through flame or deceit. I remembered the heat from the fires on my skin; remembered the sound of walls crumbling. It felt good to revisit some of my finest achievements, but it had a slightly bitter aftertaste. I had practiced my art for a tyrant. I didn’t care at the time, but it felt wrong to know that I’d helped him. It made me angry. Just more fuel for the fire in me I guess.
After the past few days, I’d set up the main structure of my plan. It would start slowly; I’d hack in to the security system and watch the cameras for a week or two. That meant I’d have to meet with Stu and have the awkward ‘I’m not dead’ conversation. I’d probably crash at his house during that time, watching and noting every security check-in and get to know when the guards made their rounds. Then I’d pick a guard, have Stu take him out for drinks, then borrow his uniform. I’d have to keep him tied up somewhere until I finished my mission. Walter offered to watch over him, and gave me his opinion on who would be the best option. Unfortunately, most of the guards were a lot bigger than me. I’d have to do some serious tucking and pinning for the uniform to look professional enough.
Stu said he’d try to get me a Class A keycard for now, then copy the unfortunate guard’s backstage pass once we abducted him. I had Johnny’s spare set of keys, so I should have complete access to every room I’d need to get into. Unfortunately, he didn’t have keys to Trystix’s safe or filing cabinets. That wouldn’t really be a problem for me. Picking locks or breaking them is something I’d always been good at. Johnny also told me about the service stairs at key points in the building, in case I needed a quick getaway.
After I got in, I would do the guard’s usual rounds, while Stu would loop the security tapes, making it look like I was just walking around doing my job for at least two hours. I would then get to my old apartment, and call Liv from my personal phone line. Johnny said Trystix never shut it down as a boon to Liv…Something like lighting a candle for the dead I guess. Whatever. Trystix would do anything to make Liv think he was actually something like human.
The wild card to my entire plan was Liv. I’d have to convince her to leave Trystix, leave Chicago, and return to Seattle with me, not to mention the part that I was still alive. I wouldn’t have much time to plead my case, but hopefully I could find some way to convince her…Maybe the fact that Alex Ryder was actually Raiden would make a difference. I didn’t really know what I’d say, but I figured I’d know in the moment. For now I would just sit back and watch the cameras.
After about a week of minimal sleep and microwave pizzas, I had picked my man. His name was Vic. He was a shorter, stockier man than I had first thought. He walked very proud most of the time; a cocky grin constantly on his face. He seemed very happy to be an authority in the most powerful man in the nation’s home. He continuously checked that his gun was clear in its holster, not that he’d ever needed to use it. The security measures were so regulated that the guards rarely saw more than a few people with picket signs outside the building. Vic was a loner, like myself. He didn’t really interact with anyone else in the building. He came in a few minutes early, and usually left a few minutes early as well. He seemed to think he transcended most of the rules. No wonder Trystix hired him.
What I didn’t know was where he lived. He had started a little after Stu had been fired, so Stu had no access to his personnel file. I’d have to improvise; follow him home or something. Not really a problem. It gave me a chance to leave Stu’s house for a night. I decided I would probably need something a little less conspicuous than my motorcycle, so Walter let me borrow his tan Toyota. There isn’t much more inconspicuous than a neutral-colored Toyota.
Following someone without them knowing they’re being followed is tricky at best. You have to be careful not to follow too close, but stay within visual range. It’s a balancing act. Lucky for me, Vic was oblivious to everything beyond his gun in the holster on his hip. To be honest, driving the clutch in the Toyota was the hard part. I ran a few red lights to keep up, but Vic’s convertible was pretty easy to spot if I fell too far behind. We drove threw suburban Chicago for a little more than half an hour, almost all the way back to Stu’s. What a waste of gas.
We turned a corner and instantly were stopped at a light. And then someone threw a wrench in the mix. No, literally. Someone threw a wrench out of a window. It slammed into the side of Vic’s car. You know those dings you can just hammer out of your car door? This did not leave one of those dings. It left the other kind…The kind that makes cocky security guards pull over and get all huffy.
Vic had turned crimson before the wrench even hit his car. He was irate. He stormed out of his car and started toward the door of the apartment. He began pounding on the door, screaming for someone to come out and either fix his car or give him the money to fix it. This was going to get complicated. I pulled around the next street and crept back to watch.
A young couple came out fairly quickly and yelled right back at Vic. Something about not waking the neighbors unless you want the neighbors to kick your teeth in. Apparently, the young man was in the middle of breaking up with his girlfriend, who threw the wrench. He told Vic to get steppin’ or there would be trouble. Vic took offense, puffed out his chest, and shoved the young man. Oh, Vic. Bad move. The young man clocked him and he crumpled like a dry leaf. The young man then started kicking him in the torso and head. I couldn’t have my cover in a hospital, so I ran up to the scuffle.
“Hey, bro. Cut it out man. It’s this moron’s bad. Sorry we interrupted. I’ll get his ass off your porch.” I said.
“Who the hell are you?” He asked between kicks.
“I’m his…parole officer. He stole my suit. I’m taking him downtown.”
“Yeah, you better. But I’m gonna kick his teeth in first!” He responded with another kick. His girlfriend began pulling him back, to which he shoved her down. I may burn things for a living, but I can’t stand domestic violence.
“Enough, man. Enough.” I tried to sound cool and collected.
“Mind your own business, pig!” He yelled back. The girl began crying.
“There’s no reason for that. Cool your jets, man. She didn’t do anything.”
“She got in my business! She deserves that and more! I’ll teach her better. You better leave, pig. You’re bugging me.” He turned around and started away.
Self-control, as you may have noticed, is not my strong-suit. I grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around. I ducked, expecting the sucker punch, and hit him with a left to the solar plexus, followed by an uppercut. The boy collapsed next to the girl, who screamed. She pulled out a cell phone and ran in the house, leaving her boyfriend on the steps.
“Who…who’re…uhh…” Vic muttered. I punched him.
“Shut up. You’ve just gotten us in trouble. Time to go.” I put his arm around one of my shoulders and carried him to the Toyota.
Vic’s car was going to be a problem, so I took out his keys and tossed them onto the porch next to the young man. I figured I owed him something for the headache when he woke up. I doubted he’d say the car wasn’t his. Either way, he had no idea who either Vic nor myself were. In the distance, I could hear a siren. Not good. I climbed into the Toyota and started driving. Vic laid against the window, tongue hanging out. I was really starting to hate this guy.
We never made it to Vic’s house, due to the wrench incident, so I was just going to have to take him now. I had planned everything out; it was supposed to start a week from then. Well, you can’t plan stupidity. I didn’t really have anywhere I could take the imbecile except Stu’s, so I drove in that direction.
“No…sir…Mr…Trystix…I haven’t…heard…anything…Sh…She’s beautiful and lo….loves you…sir.” Vic mumbled. I laughed. Good to see Trystix was still insecure. It was almost time to exploit those insecurities. Just a few more loose ends…