a little poke will give me ease
Jet had to smile a little. "What did you expect to find, Faye? A neon sign that says Bad Guy Here?"
Faye shrugged. "I dunno. I guess I'm as anxious to get out of this place as Fluffy is," she said, speaking as if Fluffy himself wasn't right behind her. Spike grumbled something incomprehensible and took off to do some independent studying of the facilities.
Faye draped her T-shirt back over the gun. Getting the weapons in the Institute wasn't that difficult either. Faye discovered early in her second life that security guards never, ever looked in the maxi pad box. Just one of the many reasons Jet and Spike were secretly grateful to have a spare woman around.
"Hey," Spike suddenly spoke up from down the hall. "Kitchen."
Well, that was cheery news. The three of them bounded through the swinging doors with a visible spring to their step. Screw Bloody Eye and all the rest. As far as this group was concerned, food was the perfect drug, and even harder to come by. Their spirits came crashing down, however, when they saw someone had beaten them to the punch.
"Ed, what the hell are you doing here?" Spike groaned. "And with Ein no less?"
Ed and the dog were poised gracefully on the steel kitchen counter, surrounded by an embarrassment of riches. Ed was already half way through a turkey leg, which she held with her toes, since her hand was busy shoveling chocolate cake into her mouth. Ein didn't even look up when they came in the room. He was enthralled by a particularly captivating honeyed ham. "Ed found floor plans, remember?" she said in a "duh" tone of voice. "Ed's not stupid."
Spike shook his head. "Is there any left?"
"Yep, yep!" she proclaimed. She directed them to the fridge with her turkey leg like an air traffic controller.
The senior partners looked at each other and shrugged. Surely, the case could wait while they made up for six months of malnutrition. They all grabbed various food items and had what would be the Brownstone's first and last family picnic.
"You know..." Faye said as she smushed an egg salad sandwich into her mouth. "I can already feel my body rejecting this. It's like, These aren't bell peppers! Does not compute." Her stomach rumbled perfectly on cue. "See?"
Spike was not giving his body time to argue. He had already eaten an entire antipasto and was on the prowl for more. "Hey, what's in here?" he asked as he swung open the door to what looked like a walk in freezer. As a huge gust of cold air rushed through the kitchen, Ein suddenly looked up from his own meal and jumped down from the counter.
Everyone watched with curiosity as he sniffed carefully around the room, paused in front of the open freezer, and reluctantly went inside. "That's weird," Spike said as he watched the dog skit around nervously, pausing every few seconds to readjust. "You'd think he's never smelled beef before."
That was all it was. The freezer was a meat locker. It smelled pretty gross, but not unusual.
"Maybe it's not meat Ein smells," Ed said slowly, then sprung from the table and followed Ein around on her hands and knees, sniffing in all the same places.
The others watched in silence as they continued to munch absently on their newfound cud. They didn't look all that different from the cows that were hanging in that locker. Suddenly, Ein began growling at the far corner of the room. "What is it, Ein?" Ed cocked her head at him. Ein looked at her and then growled at the wall again.
Ed pressed her body up against the wall but nothing seemed unusual about it. It wasn't long before the rest of the gang was snooping around the locker also.
"You sure there's something up with this wall?" Faye asked Ein, though she realized how stupid that must have sounded, talking to the dog like that.
Ein barked sharply in response, as if he resented being asked the question to begin with.
"Oh shit," Spike suddenly grumbled. They all spun to look at him. He was crouching in the opposite corner. "I'll be damned," he said softly, as he turned to reveal a piece of tile he had just accidentally kicked loose from the floor. Underneath it was an electronic keypad.
Ed squealed in delight as she attacked the pad with hacker gusto. She squinted at the display for a moment, muttered some obviously non-complimentary things in some foreign tongue, and eventually shouted, "A-ha!"
A-ha was an understatement. The wall Ein was in front of suddenly turned away to reveal a long dark corridor. They all stood staring at in shocked amazement as Ein whimpered and ran shaking behind Jet. Ed freaked and slammed the button to make it close again.
"Well..." Jet scratched his head. "That isn't right."
"I'd say that's about as good as a neon sign," Spike mused as he loaded his gun. "We goin' in?"
The others responded by loading their own weapons, and then looked to Ed to reopen the door. She looked at them with those huge eyes of hers and reluctantly did so. Something about this was making her very nervous, and most of it had to do with Ein's inexplicable fear. Always trust a dog's instinct.
"Go back to the room," Jet told Ed, and she was more than happy to oblige. Ein whimpered his concern one more time before scampering off. "Just be on call if we need you," he hissed after her.
The three of them took a breath and Spike pressed the button to close the door. He ducked in just as it closed behind them, and then there was darkness.
"Shit," Faye muttered, not liking this at all. She pawed at the walls for a moment, trying to locate a light switch but came up empty handed. Well, one thing to be said about smokers, they were always good to have in a darkened corridor. They each flicked on their lighters and made their way cautiously down the hall, bumping in to each other every so often.
Then all of a sudden, the ceiling disappeared. They didn't even see it as much as they felt it. There was just suddenly a lot more air around them. They all looked up to see that the ceiling didn't exactly disappear, as much as it let out into a huge warehouse. It was still relatively dark, but there was just a tiny amount of moonlight shining in from some unseen source. The warehouse itself seemed to be stocked with something, but what? There were just stacks of wooden crates no bigger than a shoe box, all identical in size, and as far as Jet could tell, weight. "What is all this?" Jet wondered aloud as he put the box back down. His question was answered when a shot suddenly rang out from somewhere behind him and burrowed itself two inches away from his head. As the bullet shattered the wooden crate, a huge cloud of white dust exploded in its wake. Jet sprang back in shock as Spike and Faye fired back in the general direction. There was a soft thud from somewhere above them, then silence.
"Lucky shot," Spike said, impressed with himself. Or Faye. Whoever got him. They stood around in a circle for a second, guns raised though they really couldn't see anything. When all seemed quiet, Jet went to further investigate the contents of the box, as Spike attempted to see where their would be assassin was shooting from. Faye hung out in the middle, ready to back up whoever got shot at first.
Jet dabbed his thick finger in the powder and touched it lightly to his tongue. Hmm. Didn't seem to be poisonous. He dabbed it again and then almost chuckled. "It's coke," he said to Faye and then smiled. "How quaint."
Spike had no conceivable notion of where that guy could have possibly been. Adrenaline had seen the gunman more than any of the more practical senses. He slunk around the maze of boxes, his back to the wall like a spy in a B-movie. He was about to go see if Jet found anything when a single drop of blood splatted gently on the ground in front of him. Slowly, he looked up, and another little trickle of blood dotted his nose. He wondered briefly if that was good luck before flicking his lighter at the ceiling. He could barely make out the silhouette of a body hovering high above him. There was a catwalk circling the perimeter of the warehouse. Interesting.
Then he heard a very unsettling sound echo off the acoustically favorable warehouse. It was the sound of not one, but several guns clicking in anger. "GET DOWN!" he shouted somewhere over the boxes just as a several rounds exploded into the merchandise behind him. This set free a dense blanket of white powder that stung his eyes and made him cough. He fired a few above him but he could only make out vague shadows through the darkness and milky haze. Well, at least they can't see me either, he thought as he darted through the boxes in a quasi-squatting position. In fact, that might have been the best thing they had going for them.
He raced through the room firing his rounds not so much at the men surrounding them, but at the boxes closest to the top. He figured he might as well level the playing field. The air in the room was getting progressively heavier with drugs, and Spike had to pull his shirt up over his face to avoid getting conked out of his gourd. Suddenly, a body crashed to the floor mere inches in front of him. He tried to skid gracefully to a stop, found it impossible, and backtracked right into Faye. About a half-second later they noticed a beam of light setting its sight on them through the smog. "What the hell do we do?" Faye hissed, yanking Spike behind a box as she simultaneously fired three rounds in the air behind her. The lights they were using for targeting didn't seem to help them out much anyway. They just reflected off the dusty air in odd ways. In fact, they almost seemed to add to the confusion more than minimize it.
"You and Jet make a break for the door," Spike muttered. "Just make sure you fire at the boxes, understand? We can't possibly take ‘em all out but we can blind ‘em."
Faye let out a small yelping noise as she ducked out of the way of an errant bullet. "The blind shooting the blind," she hacked through her bandana. "Perfect," she lowered herself a couple more inches as Spike took a shot behind her. "What are you gonna do?"
"Me? Well, I'm gonna go the other way," he shrugged. "Find Jet. Go now."
"Spike..." she protested.
Faye sighed as she rocketed down the corridor, signaling Jet to follow her. She more or less did as she was told, until a few shots hit a little to close for home and she felt the need to take vengeance. In the process, she managed to take out a few overhead lights. She winced as she shielded herself from the glistening shards of glass. Well, at least now she knew there were lights in here, for future reference. "ED!" Jet screamed in the comm. "Open the door, Ed!"
"Ok, OK!!!" Ed screamed back.
A few moments later, a thin streak of light crept out in the distance, and the two cowboys pressed themselves to go faster, sliding through the door and immediately turning around to slam it shut. They didn't stop running until they had made it up the stairwell and into their room. "How...the...hell...is Spike...gonna get out of there?" Faye asked as she slunk to the floor, entirely out of breath.
Jet shrugged as he took a moment to get his bearings. "He'll figure it out," he said. "He always as a plan."
* * *
Spike had no idea how he was going to get out of there. While Jet and Faye were making their grand exit, he was busy doing what he did best: causing a diversion. He would bolt to one side of the room, firing the whole way, pause, and then run back in a different direction. The idea was to make it look like there were more of them then there actually were, a trick that could only possibly work when all willing parties couldn't see jack shit. It seemed to work well enough. He thought he saw the two of them get out all right. The problem was getting out himself. He looked up at the flurries of chemical ecstasy floating all around him. It looked kind of festive, actually. Dashing through the blow, he hummed to himself as he made another run across the room. In a one horse open...doof.
He stumbled and fell as a stray bullet ripped through his flesh. Red splattered feverishly on white as he hit the ground, trying his best not to inhale a good whiff. He immediately crept to a kneeling position, dragged his ass to a little nook in the merchandise and sat very still. The bullet had just grazed him, leaving a profusely bleeding gash in the side of abdomen, soaking his cotton khakis to the bone. And he had only bought one pair. Just his luck. He suddenly noticed it was very, very quiet. They probably figured they got him. Spike inhaled sharply as a fresh wave of pain washed over his body and passed, probably due to the nice gulp of cocaine he just snuffed down by mistake. On some whim he turned his head to the left, and saw a small opening in the wall no bigger than a laundry chute. Big enough. He dove down the chute on his back, in an attempt to minimize the blood trail he would no doubt leave, and found himself crash landing on a loading dock. So sooner then he hit dock, he heard a voice, so he rolled off the platform and onto the floor with a staggeringly painful thud. He weakly backed under the dock and waited to see who was there.
One of the security guards was talking to a non-uniformed man. "So who the hell do you think they were?"
"No idea, man. Kahn's gonna work on it tomorrow."
"Shit," the guard rubbed his head. "You don't think it was the feds."
"Please. If it were the feds they'd just hover around here for three years and the slap us with tax evasion. Nah, I think this was a street thing or somethin'. All I know is heads are gonna roll. You know how much shit we lost tonight?"
When Spike was certain he was alone, he feebly rose to a standing position and embarked on the long journey around the perimeter of the facility and in through an open window. As he stumbled through the hallway, he heard two people screaming at each other. He figured it was Jet and Faye. But as he rounded the corner, he saw a burly looking man with red eyes haul off and smack who appeared to be his wife. Spike froze a few inches in front of them.
The man's eyes widened as he saw Spike's condition, but then narrowed again. "Move along, buddy," he warned.
Spike's leg snapped out like a whip and pinned the larger man by his neck against the wall. "You wanna hit something?" he asked him, and then pressed harder on the man's throat with his boot. The man made choked little gagging sounds as his eyes bugged out of his head. "Do ya?"
"No..." the man managed to croak out.
Spike swung his leg back in almost as quickly as he had swung it out. "Thought not," he sighed as he limped his way back to his room, the woman staring with a mixture of horror and awe as he shut the door behind him.