I spent the next few days organizing plans. The first thing that I had to do before I could lay siege to the Second City was to get a car. Like Johnny had said, I wasn’t far from Trystix’s warehouse where I had left Vic during my first visit to Chicago. I could take my pick of vehicles whenever it occurred to me to do so, but I could hold off until my plans were solid. I had to choose my targets first. I had to hit Trystix where it hurt; I had to make sure he knew what was coming, and that he could do nothing to stop it. I borrowed a map of the city from KJ and taped it up on the wall of my room. I drew a circle around Tryst Tower, nearly right in the center of the map. I spent hours staring at the map, trying to pick the perfect targets that would make sure Trystix knew it was me that was raising Hell itself.
Based on that philosophy, I came up with a battle plan. I would start the party with Stu’s house, then the warehouse (minus my pick of vehicle, of course), then an abandoned diner Trystix used for his paper records. It was humorous to me that he still had those paper records of his legal career. He had more money than the rest of the city combined, and he held on to his past case files that meant absolutely nothing to anyone else. I’d always known he was a touch odd, but this blew my mind. Aside from the warehouse, Stu’s, and the diner, I still had one target left. This target was going to make some people very angry. It might even incite a riot if I was lucky.
The beauty of this plan was location; each building was little more than a mile to the south, east, north, and west, respectively, of Tryst Tower. If Trystix was paying attention, which he would be, he would suspect the next target to be to the west. He would be correct; but he wouldn’t know when. I would spread the timing out among the three buildings, with at least three days between each. I would take the fourth building only two days after the third to throw him off any sense of pattern. Now I just had to decide on which building to take within that radius.
KJ, Riv, and Lance kept their end of the deal; they stayed out of my way. I’d see them in the halls sometimes, but the only one who was even remotely friendly was Lance. He was short, blonde, and stupid. He always had a goofy grin on his face, like he knew something that no one else did. He would laugh to himself a lot, amused at something only he thought was funny. I had no idea why KJ would put up with this kid. He wasn’t bright, he wasn’t big, and I doubt he even knew the difference between right and left. Regardless, KJ and Riv kept him around for something. He wouldn’t be much of a criminal, but they still kept him close. I wondered to myself if he was some kind of savant; a genius at something…but I doubted it. I started thinking he must be related to Riv somehow. That made more sense; the only idiots one keeps company with are idiots that you are related to.
I was beginning to feel confident in my new environment; I had everything I needed. I had a room, privacy, and access to every critical point of my plan I wanted to hit. I was close…so very close…Absolution and redemption were on my doorstep. I spent about five days plotting and calculating when to attack. My birthday was approaching, just a week away. I figured that would be the perfect day for the first strike. I waited patiently, trying not to count the minutes until the moment I could finally start. Everything had aligned perfectly. That, in and of itself, should have tipped me off that something was wrong.
I was in a deep sleep one night, dreaming of a beautiful disaster. I saw a building, completely nondescript, completely consumed in flames. My body and soul were aching with the need to make my dreams come true. I woke with a smile and a laugh, telling myself my time was coming. I turned over in my bed, content to return to my dreams. Outside my window, I heard footsteps, followed by a powerful engine revving and tires squealing. This wasn’t unusual for Chicago, but it was unusual for this area and time of night.
I sat up, waiting to hear anything more. I didn’t hear anymore cars, but there was an odd noise in the main foyer below my room. Thud. Thud. Thud. Scrape. Scrape. Thud. I swore, not wanting to get up and check on Lance sleepwalking again. Thud. Thud. Scrape. Scrape. Thud. Thud. This was beginning to annoy me. I got out of my bed and pulled a shirt over my head. Thud. Thud. Thud. I walked over to my door, anger fueling the movements. This wasn’t new; Lance had wandered into my room in the middle of the night once, scaring the hell out of me. Sleepwalking is an odd thing. Just before I opened the door, the noises stopped with an abruptness that stopped me cold.
I don’t know to this day why, but something told me this wasn’t Lance sleepwalking. I hesitated, then walked back to my bed. I reached under my pillow and pulled out the pistol Raiden had packed for me, made sure it was loaded, and returned to my door. I took a deep breath, letting long seconds pass. I slowly turned the knob, and quietly opened the door. I slid through the doorway, enveloping myself in the darkness of the hallway. I crept towards the stairs, taking slow and measured steps. Everything was still. The front door stood ajar, but that was typical. The chair where had been keeping watch was empty; this was not typical. He rarely slept, and when he did it was in the early afternoons. But Riv was nowhere to be seen. I made my way down the steps, my eyes darting from side to side. Nothing seemed amiss except the lack of Riv in his chair.
After what seemed like a million stairs and thirteen hours, I had descended to the foyer floor. I was starting to think I was just paranoid until the noises started again, closer this time. Thud. Thud. Scrape. Scrape. It was off to my left, but I couldn’t see anything but shadows. I crept to the wall and hit the light switch. I turned and saw Riv collapsed on the floor. He was bloody and broken, trying to crawl across the hardwood. His eyes were swollen shut, and he had a deep gash across his throat. He wasn’t making any progress except for hitting his hand on the floor, his fingernails clawing into it. I could tell just by looking at him he didn’t have long.
“Riv. Riv. It’s me. What happened, man?” I asked him, not knowing why. I knew he couldn’t respond. He coughed and sputtered something unintelligible. He gestured across the room to the opposite wall, and that said plenty. He coughed again, then went still. On the wall, spray painted in red, was a message. But it wasn’t for me.
With his blood, clean your wounds. Then get out of my town. Resistance will only bring more blood. One down, two to go.
Wonderful. My roommates had enemies too.
KJ! Lance! Get down here!” I yelled, lowering my gun.
It took a moment, but I heard some banging around upstairs. KJ came crashing out of his room with a gun in hand.
“What the hell, Devil! What could you-…Oh shit.” He said as he came down the stairs.
Lance came bumbling out next, falling down the stairs. He shook it off, smiled his idiot smile, then finally noticed the body and the message. He crawled over to Riv and held his head in his hands. He then started crying. Poor kid. I turned back to KJ, who hadn’t moved a muscle since he saw the writing on the wall. Then, KJ lost it. He screamed and started firing his gun at the wall. He fired all six rounds, but kept pulling the trigger. He was shaking and sweating, screaming and cursing. He finally sank to the ground, his face in his hands.
“You mind telling me what the hell you got yourselves into?” I said. KJ stopped trembling and looked up at me.
“Riv’s dead, you moron! That’s what’s up! Mind your own business!” He yelled.
“No shit. I’m the one that found him. You mind telling me why he’s dead?” I asked, trying to stay in control.
“He’s dead because he got killed!” KJ was almost hysterical.
This was going well. Riv had been killed, Lance was crying, and KJ was shooting his gun and stating the obvious. I sighed and turned to go up the stairs and go back to bed. KJ grabbed my leg and held me fast.
“We are trying to get the price of medicine back down. So we took one of the trucks Trystix has his boys selling them in and trashed it. We poured the pills out in the street and roughed up the driver. We told him to tell Trystix that Chicago is gonna fight back. We told him to tell Trystix the Resistance is coming. We were careful, man. We were careful. No one saw. Nobody.” KJ said. He was shaking his head in disbelief.
“Actually, someone did. Your driver. He is what real criminals call a witness. You should have killed him and painted the message on the street with his face.”
“We ain’t criminals, man! Come on! We ain’t killin’ nobody!” He said, looking at me like I’d told him to kiss a rattlesnake.
“You’re an idiot, KJ! You’re trying to fight Trystix without playing by his rules! He’s ruined or killed more people than you can imagine and you fight back with kid gloves! What were you thinking?” I was blown away by the stupidity.
“We just want everyone to have a fair shot, man! That’s all! Just trying to help the city…” He broke down and started crying.
I shook my head, unable to comprehend what could have driven these three men to try and fight back against Trystix. They hadn’t thought it through, hadn’t covered their tracks, and now one of them was dead. I didn’t have time to waste on amateurs, but they had call for vengeance now, too. Maybe I could use them…
“KJ, you didn’t play the game right. They either know who you are or knew where to find you. Either way, you guys screwed up. You got Riv killed and you could’ve gotten me killed, too. I’m not ok with that. But I know how you feel; I’ve been in your position. As a matter of fact, I’m still trying to even the scales. You boys want revenge, right?” I looked at KJ first, then Lance, who had finally stopped crying. They looked at each other a moment, then they both nodded. “All right then. I’ll write you in to my game. But if either one of you screws up, I’m the one who’s going to kill you.”