One thing I learned from working with Regan Trystix is that every good plan has three things; a motive, a destination, and a back-up plan. I had the first two in spades. But, as they say, the devil is in the details. I’ve always been good at finding justification for the things I’ve done. I have no problem burning a hole in the ozone if I feel the end justifies the means. Trystix, on the other hand, over-thought things. He would obsess over small and trivial things like the timing of streetlights and which phase the moon would be in. I had never had need for things like this. Then again, I had never tried to take out a political figure and convince his wife and daughter to leave their home either.
My motive was easy; payback. Vengeance. An eye for an eye. He tried to have me killed, so I naturally wanted to take him out. He was obviously corrupt; he needed to be put down. The world would be better without him. The world also would have been better without me, but it obviously wasn’t my time. Trystix wasn’t going to be the one to take me out, but I would be the reaper of his entire world. This was the first moment that realized I was probably going to kill Trystix. It didn’t bother me much. Raiden would be annoyed I didn’t tell him the plan had changed, but I didn’t really feel like answering a million questions right before I put my life on the line for him…It just didn’t seem that important to me.
My destination was Tryst Tower, then Seattle. I knew the layout of the Tower better than about anyone during my stay there, and, barring any additions that may have been added, I probably still did. I had spent a long time studying the blueprints Stu and Johnny had acquired for me. I knew most of the maintenance routes, though not as well as I wanted to. I had hoped to have time to physically be in the building before I made my move on Trystix. But I didn’t have that kind of time anymore. This had to be done today. End of story.
The back-up plan is always the X-factor. I’ve never been good at sticking to anything solid for one reason; nothing ever goes the way you plan it. I’m much better at winging it than most people, seeing as I have a lot more experience planning and executing things like this than most. I wasn’t worried; I would be in and out before anyone knew different. The only thing I could rely on was my instincts.
As I sped towards Tryst Tower, I started thinking about Lena. She’d be almost eight years old now…I had missed valuable years with my niece, valuable time feeling human. I would have given anything to have that time back. I wondered if she still had the hazel flecks in her eye. I wonder if she still looked like her mother and I more than Trystix. Though he was her father, I was sure she’d look more like me than him. Aside from that, I planned to remove him from the picture. Lena would be upset, but I’d make it up to her, once I got her and her mother back to Seattle.
The drive wasn’t long from the warehouse; only a few miles. You could see the Tower looming in the distance from the warehouse. I drove steadily towards it, feeling confident. Though I didn’t have a whole lot of time, I felt safe. I felt at peace. Probably the calm before the storm. I’ve never been much of an optimist, but I was ready. I wished that I had my small gun, although I’d never used it. I hadn’t even shot it since I bought it years ago. It probably wouldn’t do me much good anyway. This was about stealth, not force. I needed to get in, find my sister and niece, and hope for an opportunity at Trystix. I couldn’t force the last part. I could only take advantage of it if the opportunity presented itself. I was ready.
I followed the road around the back of the enormous building. There was a small maintenance entrance with a parking lot for employees. To enter, you needed a keycard. Lucky for me, Vic kept his ID in his work uniform. I slid it through the reader, waited for the buzz that signaled acceptance, and slowly rolled into the small parking lot. I wouldn’t need the motorcycle when I was leaving. It’s hard enough riding with one passenger, let alone two. I hoped Liv would have access to a vehicle. If it came to it, I would just boost one from the inner parking structure. No big deal.
The parking lot was empty, save for two vehicles. Probably the night shift security team. If I remembered right, the shift change was around ten o’clock. They’d definitely report a suspicious motorcycle if they saw one, even at the end of their shift. That gave me an hour. That wasn’t even close to what I had planned on. I had been hoping for at least six hours to get the job done. I was going to have to work fast.
Trystix’s office was on the top floor. I couldn’t take the main elevator without greatly risking being seen before I wanted to be. I would have to take the service elevator, known to the security as “the Turtle.” As you can imagine, it was almost twice as slow as the main lift. It would pause at each floor for a count of five; no one really knew why. That meant to get to the top floor, the hundred-fiftieth for the record, would take me almost thirteen minutes. Thirteen up, and thirteen down. Twenty-six minutes wasted on a damn elevator. That gave me little more than a half-hour to get the files from Trystix’s office, find my sister, and escape the tower. I suppose I could add a minute or two to punch out Trystix.
I quietly slid into the building, checking around each corner as I made my way to the Turtle. The corridor was very plain, mostly white and gray. Trystix was to cheap to ever have the place properly lit, so there were a lot of shadows throughout the hallways. It was quite a depressing place.
The Turtle also required keycard, so I kept it in my hand as I moved silently through the dark employee’s entranceway. I knew my way through this area better than most. I had spent a lot of time in these dimly lit halls when I was working for Trystix. I had used this very same route each time I returned from solving Trystix’s problems. I rounded the last corner and swore. I arrived by the lift just in time to see the doors start opening. I dove back around the corner into the shadows as the night shift security team stepped out of the elevator. They must have gotten off early. Damn.
“Trystix is really upset today, man. Did you hear the way he was screaming at his bitch?” one said.
“What’d she do this time? I swear he’s gonna kill her one day.” the other responded.
“No kidding. I think if she kept her yap shut he wouldn’t have to keep knocking her around. If she doesn’t behave she can’t be on TV.”
“I know! You’d think she’d be smarter than that. I bet he only keeps her around for that dynamite body of hers.”
Needless to say, I’d heard enough. I don’t know if I was more upset that Trystix had hit Liv or that these two men thought it was funny. Either way, I was irate. Reason flew out the window, and a cold malice replaced it. I stayed in the shadows, mostly concealed. As the first walked around the corner, the smaller of the two, I stuck my foot out and tripped him. He yelped as he hit the cold tile floor. His partner tried to run to the alarm on the wall back the way he’d come by the Turtle. I whipped around the corner and dove at his legs. He went down. He crashed headlong into the stone wall with a sickening thud. He didn’t move after that.
The first guard, regaining his senses, had started back to his feet. Before he could regain his balance, I was on him. We wrestled for a moment or two. I was lucky; I had a good thirty pounds on him. I eventually took him to the floor and slammed his head to the floor. It knocked him out cold. I took his gun; you never know when you’ll need one during a tense moment. Better yet, it was fully loaded.
I couldn’t have bodies cluttering up the hall, so I dragged the unconscious guard into a janitor’s closet. I tied him up with an extension cord and put tape over his mouth. His buddy wasn’t going to be so easy to hide. He hadn’t moved since he hit the wall. There was blood on the wall and on the floor where he lay. I took off his shirt and tried to mop it up. Contrary to popular belief, shirts are not the most absorbent things in the world. I more or less just spread his blood across the floor. I swore again and dragged his body into the closet with his partner. I’d have to move even faster now.
I walked back to the Turtle and pushed the call button. It didn’t dawn on me until I had been in the elevator and gone up twenty floors that I had just killed another human being. I hadn’t meant to; only to knock him out and keep him from pushing the panic button on the alarm system. Accident or not, I was officially a murderer. Great.
The Turtle kept climbing and climbing. I sat down on the floor in the elevator and waited. Minute by agonizing minute went by. I was losing time and I was losing it fast. I was behind schedule. I had to move faster. I had to speed things up. But the damn elevator stayed the same slow, painful speed. I stood up and started pacing. Then I got an idea; I didn’t need to take it all the way to Trystix’s office. I just needed to get high enough that I wasn’t in view of the main security feeds. I would get off on the one-hundred-twentieth floor and take the emergency stairs the rest of the way. It would be harder, and I’d be winded, but it might save me some time in the end.
Finally, after the longest eleven minutes of my life, the doors opened to a small room. There were no lights on, but a fire burned in a fireplace in the corner of the room. There was a little bundle in front of it. Something small, something not moving, something wrapped up tight. It looked almost like a pile of blankets. Everything in the world stood still as I slowly got off the elevator. The stairs were outside the small apartment, and down the hall past Olivia’s private library. I had no choice but to walk past the light of the fire.
I moved very swiftly yet quietly; I could move like a cool breeze when I needed to. I had found need to during my work with Trystix. People and dogs don’t usually like it when you burn their house to the ground. I kept my eyes on the heap of fabric, though it never moved. I made it around the light of the fireplace when I heard a small sigh. I froze in my tracks, and my eyes leapt to the heap on the floor. It moved. Something was under the blankets. I saw a wisp of dark hair and pale skin. My breath was caught in my throat. Lena. I knew I should move on and get the files first. I should talk to Liv. I should be on my way out in a matter of moments. But this was my niece. My humanity. I had to see her.
I sneaked back over to the pile of blankets. I crouched down next to her, and moved the top cover down just a little. My beautiful niece lay fast asleep not a foot away from me. I couldn’t believe how much she’d grown. She looked just like her mother did at eight years old. I could see a ghost of a smile on her lips, and she sighed again. It was a moment that will always be locked in my mind. I hovered there, frozen in time. I didn’t hear anything but the sound of my precious niece breathing. I didn’t care about anything else. Forget Trystix. Forget Raiden. This was all I needed.
As I sat motionless watching my niece, my guard went down. Every survival instinct faded. I became lost as I watched my sleeping niece. Normally, I would have heard someone approaching me from behind long before they were breathing down my neck, but I was distracted. I heard a small click, then felt the barrel of a gun pressed into the back of my head.
“Stand up. Get away from her. Now.”