El Gato Loco follows Lief Freyrson towards the atrium. Seeing a gang-banger off to one side, desperately trying to crawl away while coughing up blood, El Gato takes his radio, to make sure he can’t call out.
He gets to the atrium … and does a double-take. A guy dressed in SWAT is on the northern end, gun out. He looks exactly the same as the one El Gato had just killed … same build, same uniform. A twin?
“Help her!” Lief calles out from the southern end of the atrium, pointing north to the doorway at the northern end (leading to some conference rooms, if he remembers right), which the SWAT is in front of. Even with his force field gone, he does not hesitate in running over to help save Wynona.
He slashes at his foe, easily finding a chink in armor made for repelling bullets. Practically as soon as his kinetic knife touches flesh, the SWAT member disintigrates within the armor, leaving only a pile of clothes.
* * *
Ti Chane comes from the stairs and looks at the scene before him. El Gato looks at Ti, as if he’s unsure of what happened, then looks past him, towards the lobby entrance. Realizing they may not be done (but who could be left???), he quickly turns around to find another SWAT entering from the lobby. A few shots of his rifle are fired before TI is on him. They trade blow for blow in melee combat, but neither seems to be getting anywhere.
From his peripheral vision, Ti can see Lief coming this way. On arrival, the SWAT has to deal with two adversaries now … and his defenses fall. A lucky strike and down he goes … into dust, once more. Another pile of clothes.
* * *
Wynona comes out from the conference rooms, out of breath, but intact. El Gato and her look around the room to see if the coast is clear. No-one seems to be moving – there’s another SWAT lying on the ground in the southern area of the atrium. They quickly make their way over to make sure that the foe is contained (who knows, he could’ve just tripped). Still breathing, but seems to be out for the count. El Gato takes the walkie off, giving them both to Wynona.
They walk over to Ti and Lief.
* * *
The four soon-to be-heroes come together. Blood has been spilt, but the battle has been won. “We need to leave… now,” Lief commands the group. “On the radio, I heard that reinforcements are on their way. They wanted this done before the cops came, and they are definitely after the pieces we found.”
The four may their way to the lobby, looking for an escape. Looking out the front windows, they can see flashlights outside heading their way – more foes. They’re trapped.
Wynona pipes up, “Henry said of an area below the fountain – a hiding place. Maybe we can stay there, wait for these guys to leave?” It was their only chance.
They make their way downstairs and look at the large triangular crack in the marble floor … their only source of escape. While only blackness appears within, it is not a large hole. They shine a flashlight within, and see a dirt and rubble hill evidence of the collapse. There is room for them to fit though.
One by one, they escape into the hole. Most of the area simply looks like a dirt wall, showing that this was a hollow area before the fountain came crashing down. However one corner of the room looks loose, as if the area had collapsed, but the dirt went another way. There must be another room on the other side. Escape!
They start moving dirt around the area and indeed see that a room exists beyond it. They go through and eventually find themselves in an underground cavern. One of the walkie-talkes that Wynona carries pipes up:
“Hey boss, we searched the entire area. No sign of them.”
A heavy mexican accent response, aggression and irritation in his voice:
“There’s no place else they could’ve gone. They’re here. $10,000 to any who bring me de tokens.”
Wynona tries to remember which direction is which. She was always very good at telling direction, but that was not under such life-threatening circumstaces. She picks a direction and leads the away. Lief guards the rear as they proceed onward through the cavern, a flashlight app from a cell-phone guiding their way.
“Boss, we found something. Looks like a hole in the ground.”
Minutes pass, as they traverse the cavern. They come upon an old stone stairway, carved using some deep rock. It leads upwards. Ti goes up and checks it out. The stairway leads up to … the surface. He can see outside, looks like their on the southern end, where they entered. If he has his directions right, if they go off to the left and up the hill, they should come out where the entered. Of course, if he goes straight, he could go towards the eastern entrance.
“Willard, come downstairs. We have a job for you and your … minions.”
A high-pitched cackling can be heard off in the distance … echoing from inside the caverns.
“Ti, we don’t have a lot of time. What’s up there?” Lief calls out. WIthout waiting for a response, the group heads up the stiars with him. Knowing that time is of the essence, Ti makes a break for it.
He knows that their enemies came in where they did, at the top of the hill. If he goes towards them, he can act as a decoy, giving them time to get away through the eastern entrance.
As he gets to the top of the hill, ready to peer over, he looks back, hoping they’ve escaped… only to see them crouching with him.
They peer over the hill to see several cars, including what looks like a souped-up El Camino. A detective car sits across from it. Four gang-bangers stand there, guarding the vehicles. They need to escape, and they need to escape quickly.
Wynona takes the two walkie-talkies, and has an idea. “If we can figure out a way to get the walkie-talkies together and stay on, we can put them in a feedback loop which will make the whole system fail … until they figure out they can switch channels. Should give us some time … if we can get them to stay on.”
El Gato takes the walkie talkies, detaches the rear cover holding the batteries, and jams them into the ‘push-to-talk’ button on the side. “There – just wrap them up and you’re set.”
With that, Ti, Lief, and El Gato stealthfully make their way down the hill and get into position. Once they’re set to pounce, Wynona brings the two walkie-talkies together and wraps them up, throwing them on the ground.
Whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr The high-pitched whirring can be heard even from the top of the hill. The bangers throw off their earpieces and get surprised by the group.
Within a few seconds, combat is over. They only have a few more before the Avenues will catch on to what happened. The detective’s cruiser will be more inconspicous, but the LoJack will make it easily findable.
El Gato quickly pops the hood, finds the LoJack, and using his kinetic knives, slashes it out. Wynona gets in the car, trying to start up the electronics of the vehicle. But nothing happens, and she fially feels the exhaustion.
She hears breathing coming from the seat behind her. Cautiously, she turns around. There, laying on the backseat, passed out, is a female in detective-clothing.
“Hey Gato, you better come here.” Lief calls after seeing the detective.
Gato looks in .. and sees his sister Maria.
- Who will arrive first – the cops, or the Avenues?
- What story does El Gato Loco’s sister have to tell? Will they finally know what has happened?
- What is in the hilly mountainous region north of Los Angeles?
Find out next time, on…
Age of Empowerment
Session 6: Just Before Dawn