Flight of The Blackbird
The young boy struggled to free himself from my grasp. I pushed down on his wrists harder, forcing him to cease his movements or risk slicing his arms open on the jagged concrete ground. He eventually calmed down, to which I loosened my grip.
“I’ll get off of you if you’ll talk, but if you make a move, I’ll decorate this alley with your guts.”
He nodded, so I removed my knees from his arms and stood up. He followed, dusting off his clothing and turning to me. To prove my resolve, I fired my wire at the wall behind his head. It jammed into the bricks with a clang. His eyes darted towards the sharp object whipped toward his face, sweat dripping down his forehead.
“Speak,” I said simply.
He took a breath in, then exhaled softly, as if to blow away the insecurity in his voice.
“O-ok…” he began. “I… I need your help. But I need to explain first. Alright. First off, my name is Enzo. I’m the younger sibling of someone who used to work for the RWMC. She was in the news a few years back, her name was Rose? Well anyway, her death was exactly like the deaths of your parents. Dressed up like a car crash but it was actually a murder, and-”
I raised an eyebrow and put my hand up to stop him.
“Hold on a minute,” I said, clearly confused. “How do you know so much about the deaths of my parents?”
“I’m getting to that part. After the death of my sister, my parents sold me off to the RWMC to be trained as an assassin to save their own skins from the company. Recently, after you humiliated Nicholas Russel’s son, you’ve become a high-profile target. They sent me out after you, but I had to do research on you, for… well… obvious reasons. I found out about your past and, well, I felt drawn to you. The way we were discarded after our families were murdered? Disgusting. I wanted the help of you and your organization, to get revenge for the both of us.”
This is way too convenient. They wouldn’t let what is essentially a slave look at classified documents, would they? Or are they that dumb of a company…
“And how do I know this isn’t all a lie to get me to drop my guard?” I asked the obvious question.
The boy, Enzo, sighed a little. He looked around to make sure nobody was watching us, then took in a deep breath and rolled up his shirt. His stomach… was a gruesome sight to behold. Even more disfigured than my own, covered in burns, stab wounds, and bullet scars.
“This is what they do to us RWMC slaves when we fail. I got none of this from enemies, just those I’m “employed” by.” He said with an indescribably intense look on his face. “I have no loyalty toward them.''
But if this is all true, then not killing me here would be putting himself at a huge risk. Why would he do this? Is his hatred so strong that he’s willing to throw himself in the fire? If that's so… then I guess we’re the same in that vein. Damn it, this is so risky. What should I do…?
“Even if that’s the case,” I began to vent my confusion. “This is the riskiest possible move for you. Why would you toss yourself into the fire?”
He looked at me with conviction.
“If it costs me my life, I have to avenge my sister. I’ve put my life towards this for five years now. I’m not going to bitch out now, not when I have a viable option for success.”
“But if you just haphazardly throw yourself into danger like this, you’re not gonna get your revenge. All you’ll get is killed.”
He raised his voice, almost on the verge of tears.
“I DON’T CARE, OKAY? I WANT NOTHING MORE THAN TO SEE THEM BLEED! I HAVE TO!”
I sighed. It wasn’t an irritated sigh, more of a knowing one. I’d been in this same position. I saw myself in this boy. A young boy thrust into a world of murder to avenge someone. The boy, as skilled as he may be, was still in over his head. He was like me, too young for the world he was dropped into. It was a bitter feeling, seeing someone go through that.
This still could be a trap, but it’s a damn good one if it is. Damn it, how do I approach this? This boy needs our help, but I don’t know what I’m supposed to do to help him. What should I do?
As if God above wanted to answer my question, my phone rang again, though this time, the ringtone was a familiar one. With my free hand, I reached into my pocket and answered the call from James Oakman.
“How’s your little date going?”
“How do you even know about that?”
“I have my sources.”
“Well, anyway, we have a bigger issue at hand here.”
I told Oakman about Enzo's situation, about how he’d followed me to ask for my help, and about how I had him pinned against a wall in front of me. Oakman sighed.
“You just can’t go anywhere without attracting trouble in droves, can you?”
“Seems that way, sir.”
“I’d like to know more about this kid. He could be the first useful lead we have in taking down the RWMC. I’ll send someone your way, so just wait there for a few minutes. ”
I lowered my voice to a whisper before voicing my own concerns.
“Sir, with all due respect, are you sure that this is a good idea? He’s some random kid who’s been tailing me all day. For all we know, he could be trying to get to you through me. This could be nothing but a trap.”
“Don’t you trust your mentor even a little bit? Even if this boy turns out to be nothing more than a common criminal, I could end him before he even has a chance to strike. I’m just a skeptical as you are, but the possible payout of this is too great to ignore. And let’s be honest for a moment, if he did turn out to be on our side, how horrible would you feel leaving him to die?”
I thought about this for a moment, not opening my mouth to speak until I was certain I’d come to a decision. I decided that I’d trust Oakman’s judgment. He hadn’t led me astray before, and I doubted he would ever.
“A-alright sir, I trust your judgment. I’ll hold the boy here until the driver arrives.”
“Good. Don’t leave young Tomoe waiting too long, though. I’ll be waiting for the good news.”
“Yes sir, thank you.”
I tapped the phone screen and shut it off. My wire detached itself from the wall and clattered to the ground, before being sucked back into my arm. I turned to face the boy and relay the news to him.
“Enzo,” I began. “You’re going to go meet someone who can help you a lot more than I can right now. A car’s going to show up here and take you to him. Even though they’re allies, don’t say anything to the drivers. They’re not always talkative, and most likely won’t trust you. When you get to Oakman, tell him everything you know about the RWMC. Any information, any details, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem, are likely to help in some way.”
“O-okay. Thank you…” He began to say.
“Reiji, my name’s Reiji.”
“Well… thank you Reiji.”
“No problem. After all, our stories are too similar for me to just ignore you. I don’t want to leave someone like that in the dust.”
“I appreciate it anyway. Nobody’s done a damn thing to help me for years, so even forced kindness is a gift for me.”
I thought about that statement for a moment.
He really has been alone all this time, being tortured by his masters. Could this really be the first time in that long that he’s experienced kindness? Yet another reason piled on top of the mountain of them that I have to hate the RWMC and the Russells. I’ll kill them myself and make sure nobody ever has to go through this again.
Another thought hit my brain, one that I decided to voice.
“Hey, Enzo. Do you happen to know why your sister was targeted?”
He seemed to have already been prepared for that question. His response was quick and deliberate, as if he didn’t even need to think about it. It must have been brewing in his head long before I asked.
“She knew too much,” He began. “She worked her way to the top of the company because of how dedicated she was to helping the right people get the armories that they needed, like the police. But one day, she witnessed a deal between the RWMC and a local gang that she wasn’t supposed to see. The next day, someone crashed their car into hers and emptied an Uzi into the remains. They came to our house that same day and told my parents that they either had to give me up or be killed themselves. You can tell what they chose.”
“I see. Wrong place at the wrong time bullshit ruined the lives of an entire family. Fuck the RWMC,” I growled.
At that point, I heard the familiar drone of a Nest vehicle. The black SUV rolled up to the front of the restaurant and shifted into park. I led Enzo out of the alley and patted him on the shoulder.
“Good luck kid-” I began to say.
My mind clicked as I noticed something was off. Something was wrong, I could feel it. I blinked a few times, trying to figure it out, then my guts churned as I heard the noise. My ears picked it up through the bustling crowd. I pulled Enzo back with all my might, tossing him onto the hard pavement as far away from the vehicle as I could muster.