Flight of The Blackbird
Oakman’s somewhat distressed voice rang through my cell phone. His tone put me on alert instantly
“Reiji, we have a situation. A small cutthroat gang called the North Dragons just took over a warehouse in the northeast district. They have hostages, and they’re threatening to kill one by one every two hours until their ransom demand of three-million Tendar is given. The government isn't doing anything and the police can’t do anything, lest they slaughter every single hostage. You’re the only bird in the area that’s capable of taking them all out and saving the hostages. I know you’re in the middle of an extremely important mission, but human life takes priority. Stork is on his way with your gear. Meet him in front of Benny’s in ten minutes. Good luck.”
“Understood sir. I’ll save as many hostages as I can. I’ll be in touch.”
I hung up the phone and immediately began sprinting across the rooftops. Using my wire to fling myself between the rooves, I made it to Benny’s in record time. I dropped down the highrise next to the little restaurant, swung through the air, and landed on my feet in front of the door.
Only to come face to face with the other three in our party of four.
Shit shit SHIT! This is not the time!
“Uh… hey guys… how’s it going?”
My eyes frantically shot between the three of them, desperately searching for a way out of this situation. Stork was on his way and likely to be there any minute now. Kota looked into my eyes for half a second, then nodded and led them inside.
“He’s got something very important to do, he’ll join us later,” he said to the two as he walked.
Thanks, Kota, I owe you one.
Not a moment later, a black car pulled up beside me. I got into the vehicle and began to change into my gear as Jimmy drove to the insertion point.
“Are you ready for this?” He asked, a look of uncertainty on his face as he drove.
I smiled confidently, a facade for how I was really feeling.
“Of course I am,” I said, “this is what I’ve been training for nearly three years. I’ve got this.”
Inside, however, my heart was pounding. I’d never been in a hostage situation. I could take out the enemies easily, but saving hostages too? I didn’t know. My brain ran through a million different simulations of how it would go, but none of them ended well. I calmed myself by taking a deep breath.
I can’t let myself get psyched out before I even get in there. If I overthink it, I'll get myself killed too. Just… don’t fuck this up and everyone will be okay.
One part of my brain gave the most useless pep-talk ever, while the other continued to overthink. I had to focus myself somehow. I looked down at my hands and saw the glove. My black leather glove, the symbol of my anger and my need to survive. And just like that, my nervousness vanished. I clenched my hand in a tight fist.
I’m going to survive because I need to. And I will save those people. I’m not going to let them like my parents, or Oakman’s parents, or any of the sorry souls who’ve been taken from this world. I will save them. I will.
With that out of the way, we arrived at our destination. The crushing pressure I felt had subsided a bit, and so I was ready for the mission. I attached my final piece of gear, a facemask I had designed a few days prior. After the incident with Tomoe, I figured it’d be a good idea to protect my identity as much as possible.
The mask covered my entire face and resembled that of a Ballistics mask, but had a white design on the right eye. The design looked like blood dripping from the eye. It honestly has no meaning, I simply thought it looked cool.
Now masked, I exited the vehicle and grappled up to a nearby roof. I could see the warehouse from where I was, so I noticed that the cops had surrounded the building on all sides, so the only way I could get in was from the top. Conveniently for me, there was a ventilation system with a hatch large enough to fit a person. Keeping that in mind, I got a few buildings closer to the warehouse, then stuck my wire to the edge of the roof. The idea had popped into my head that I could use the wire like a sling and send myself flying over to the roof. I backed up to the other side of the roof, then retracted my wire and whipped myself off the roof like an acrobat. When I neared the warehouse roof, I tucked and rolled a few times, ending up flat on my back.
“Never… doing… that… ever again,” I groaned as I stood up and dusted myself off.
Thankfully for me, the roof had been made of gravel and concrete, so my landing hadn’t made much noise. Immediately in front of me was the ventilation hatch. I sliced the grate open with my wire, then slipped inside.
I army-crawled through the vast duct system so as to not make a ton of noise, and considered my options while doing so. I assumed that the hostages would be held in one place by a small group of the gang members. The rest were likely roaming around the warehouse, seizing anything of value and capturing any civilian who tried to hide. The thought of it made my blood boil, but I couldn't simply charge in, guns blazing. I had to be methodical, or the hostages would suffer from my failure.
I looked through another grate in the air duct, one that I could see the entirety of the massive room out of. The hostages were, as I guessed, being held together in the rightmost corner of the building. There were approximately twenty-five people on their knees or sitting down, with six armed men standing around them. The others, ten in total, were at various points in the warehouse. I could hear them speaking to each other on radios or conversing with each other.
“There’s sixteen of us and we’re all armed. What are the cops gonna do?”
This proved my intel to be correct, so multiple different strategies began formulation in my head. Some included a frontal assault, which had its obvious downfalls, and creating a distraction, though I ruled that one out due to the fact the distraction would likely do nothing but alert the people and make them too trigger-happy. The one I decided on, however, was the safest for both hostages and myself. I slid the grate open and pulled it into the vent so it made no noise. The ten roamers were all alone, so I could simply pick them off one by one. I pulled out my poisoned throwing knife and dropped down out of the vent. Shipping containers and boxes were all over the place, giving me perfect hiding spots in case things got hairy. I landed on top of a shipping crate, as silent as a cat, directly behind my first victim. My opponent was completely oblivious, peering into another crate mindlessly. I tossed the knife at the man, it landing with a thunk in his neck. He fell over immediately, dead and bleeding. The shipping crate, which was open, gave me an idea. I removed the blade from the man’s neck and wiped it off on his t-shirt, then lifted the corpse into the crate and shut it. There was a small pool of crimson blood on the ground, but there was nothing I could do about that.
With any luck, someone else will trip on the blood and off themself rather than make me kill them.
I wired myself up to the roof and got back into the vent to find my next target. None of them had noticed me or their comrade’s murder, which was ideal for me. I noticed that two of the men had grouped up, so they were next. I once again swung down, this time landing on top of a shipping container. I pulled out my silenced M1911 and fired a shot into each of their heads. They dropped like rag dolls, bleeding onto each other. I hopped down from my perch and stuffed both of the corpses inside the shipping container. The next one was close by, so I sprinted across the walkway, slid out into the open, and whipped my wire at him. He didn’t even have time to react as his throat was slashed to pieces. He choked and gasped for air, but ultimately suffocated.
Suddenly, I felt a presence behind me, and rolled to the side as a blade slashed right where my head had been not a second before. I jammed my shoulder into the ground to change my direction, then landed on my feet in front of the man. He was a giant, over 2 meters tall, and was holding two knives. I wondered why he hadn’t called out to the others, until I remembered something about the gangs of Genesis.
Most of the gangs in the city were cutthroat, like nothing anyone’s ever seen. They existed as harbingers of chaos and bloodshed, and were equally harsh to their own members. Members could be mutilated at any given time by the leaders for various “crimes” against the gang. For example, if any of them snitched on fellow members, they wouldn’t be let go, they’d just have their tongue cut out. If they ran away from a shootout, they’d usually lose an arm or a leg, depending on how the boss is feeling that day. In short, this man had likely wanted out of the gang and tried to snitch, but was forced to stay and had his tongue cut out as punishment. It honestly… made me feel somewhat bad for him.
I chose to take an unprofessional gamble. I kept my voice to a low whisper, but made it audible to him.
“Drop your weapons if you want to make it out of here, and hide inside one of the shipping containers. I don’t want to kill you.”
My face was hidden, but I tried my best to sound sincere. I may be an assassin, but I didn’t enjoy the act of taking lives. It’s no excuse, but I feel that it separates me from the monsters I face.
He looked at me for a moment, seemingly pondering his options. His tight, professional face slowly began to wither away, until it was replaced entirely by a face of relief. He set his knives down on the ground, so as to not make a huge amount of noise, then nodded his head at me and opened the door to a bright pink shipping container that, thankfully, didn’t have any corpses inside.
Moving on to the sixth man, I spotted him in one of the corners, not moving much and just staring up, likely quite bored. Luckily for him, I’d put an end to his boredom. I aimed my gun at his head and fired, sending a bullet rippling through his temple. He dropped to the ground in a heap instantly. I didn’t even bother hiding that body, as it was so out of the way that I presumed nobody would notice.
I returned to my vent pipe, and located the last four roamers, who had grouped up to head back to the main force. I had to put a stop to that, so I jumped down and flung my grappling wire directly at the first one. It pierced his back, and consequently his lungs, causing him to fall to his knees, coughing and sputtering. As soon as I was within range, I swung the other razor, lopping off the heads of the other three men. The tenth and final man was still alive, so I unholstered my handgun and fired a round into his head. He died immediately.
I peered around a corner created by some shipping crates to see the final six men. One of them had a gun plated in pure gold, so I assumed him to be the leader. It occurred to me that I had to kill all six of the men as quickly as possible, lest they fire upon the hostages. I concocted a strategy that allowed me to get as many as possible as quickly as possible. Holding my silenced pistol in one hand and a throwing knife in the other I took a deep breath, then jumped out of my hiding spot and sprinted at them as fast as I could.
I raised the knife and chucked it at the first man, then immediately started firing at the second and third. By the time the other three had noticed, I swung my wire at them, removing their heads just as I had done the others. The heads hit the floor and rolled in various directions, while the other three bodies fell to the floor, leaking blood. The warehouse employees backed up in shock and disgust, trying not to let the blood touch them. They all looked at my masked face, their own faces with mixed expressions of fear, disgust, and relief. I exhaled loudly, releasing all the tension that built up in me. With that expression of mine, many reactions broke out from the crowd. One young man, probably no older than me, hugged a girl his age and they both started crying. A man who had been seemingly kicked in the face nursed the bruise. An elderly woman clasped her hands together and began to thank her god. There were other, less positive reactions too. Many looked at me in horror, and one young woman threw up at the sight of the corpses and the overwhelming stench of fresh blood. I paid little attention to that however, because only one thought went through my head.
I… I did it! I saved them! I don’t know how I did it but I-
The sound of a metal door being thrown open rang out through the room and I saw the faces of all the hostages contort into pure horror. Three gunshots rang out, and I sprang into action, determined to save them all.
I threw myself in front of the line of bullets, back facing them. Two of the bullets hit my back like a truck, only not killing me because I had the bulletproof jacket on. The third, however, went straight through my leg. I felt hot blood seep from the wound as I flipped around and fired the gun in my hand until I emptied the magazine. The bullets all hit the man, tearing him to shreds, but the wound in my leg caused me to take a knee.
“Ah, shit!” I shouted gutturally.
White-hot fire spread throughout my whole leg. I grimaced and got a knife out, knowing I needed to get the bullet from my leg in case it was poisoned. I was trained in field dressing and first air, so I stuck the knife into the wound and dug the bullet out. Once it clattered to the ground. I tore a piece of my undershirt off and tied the piece of cloth around the wound in an effort to stop the bleeding for the time being. The pain had not subsided, and in fact only worsened from the pressure and the knife, but I held out as I’d been trained. I turned back to the crowd of people. Most of them had tears streaming down their faces, but the woman praying simply continued to pray. I cleared my throat and began shouting at the hostages.
“Alright, this place has been cleared out! The cops have this place surrounded, so go out to them! You will be taken care of!”
Some of the people jumped, frightened by my tone, but they seemed to get the idea and stampeded toward the exit doors. I brought myself to my feet and limped over to the pink shipping crate, where I knocked on the door.
“You’re free to go, join the hostages and pretend you were one. I wish you good luck.”
The man in the container opened the door and stepped out. He looked at me and nodded, tears welling up in his burly eyes, then jogged over to the group and left with them.
I wired myself back up to the ventilation grate and crawled out, then wired again to the building I was standing on before, this time without the dumb roll. Stork’s car was sitting outside the police line, just as it had been before. I dropped down to it and got in.
“Good job, kid.”
“Thanks. Please… take me to Benny’s”