Hard Boiled – Episode Two: The Roof is on Fire 1.56

Rain fell on Garrison like static over an old television set. If this really was the beginning of the end, what was it symbolic of? Was it a cleansing rain or a flood to drown them all out and start anew? Capin wondered if they ought to have built an ark as a backup. Then again, Wolf probably already has one. Enry pulled tighter around his host and the rivulets just rolled right off. You see, he keeps it in a warehouse down by the docks. That’s why he volunteered for the job at the docks. The formal clad adventurer hopped up over the ledge on to the roof of The Mill. With the higher vantage point he gave another look over the Theater District. The Big Night had yet to bring about any fireworks, but it was early yet.

Aaron does not have an ark. Melody’s voice echoed somewhere between his ears. Not too far off her sleek black Acura was purring parked on street with her inside, safe, warm, and dry. Yes, she was his back up, but he didn’t want her in the mix unless it was absolutely necessary. You don’t play the ace up your sleeve if your opponent only has a pair of twos. Not that he was expecting a pair of twos. Tonight’s players were probably going to be wildcards.

It wouldn’t be the first thing he’s kept from me.

Aaron is not obliged to inform you of any aspects of Eddy’s personal life, particularly if Mr. Lane requests he not… no matter how close of friends you are.

“God,” he stretched, cracking his back. The rain smacked off his forehead thrown with a bitter cold sting. “If these people want to be found so bad, they’re not doing a very good job.” Perched in the darkness, giving another look over the street, he pulled his gloves off and wrung them out. “Like a parade or something. I always liked parades.” The neon was bright with block after block of running lights and back-lit big names. But for all the arresting lights and sounds, Capin stood atop the one that stood out by making no attempt to garner any attention.

The Mill was once a nice place, a hotspot for Jazz, and a destination point for artists from coast to coast and beyond. But that was ages ago. When the time of jazz fell under the reign of Rock and Roll money got tight and the property started to change hands. The more it became a shell of the diamond it had once been barely living on name recognition alone. Now it’s half dead, unlit marquee hung over the broken sidewalk, its contents empty. Not exactly anything TAROT would be dying to acquire. Well, unless they were jazz history buffs, which Capin was willing to concede as a possibility.

Perhaps they- she cut herself short, the last word echoing around his skull. He swiveled around, his eyes keying in on the rain beaded windshield of Melody Chang’s car. There’s somebody already inside.

Really?

It wasn’t so much a question but she answered him anyway. Yes. There’s movement behind one of the windows. Up the street on the roof, Enry anchored them to the brick as he hung over the edge to take a peek inside. I’m starting to get a bad feeling about this.

What kind of bad feeling?

Power. Raw, ancient power.

I was hoping for more of a bad fish feeling. Between the darkness and the rain he couldn’t spot anything. She reminded him that she’d had the chicken. I suppose it’s a good thing I was able to charm the expert in raw, ancient power into joining me this evening. Enry drew them back up. He’d been hoping to get a look at what they were getting into before “engaging the enemy” as Silhouette would say. But luck would apparently have none of that, and they went about examining the roof for a good point of entry. Well, I’ll be happy just to get indoors. I’m gonna catch pneumonia out here. Finding none, the Drenched Detective slipped onto the fire escape and descended.

Back on the ground, he stood blocking the back door. Enry jammed the lock and popped it open.You don’t really believe that Aaron is hiding an ark, do you?

He gave the knob a turn. Not really, no. For such an unused beaten old thing, the door moved with a silent ease. I’m pretty sure he has a big boat though. Be ready for that cue?

I’ll be close. And with that he slipped inside.

Again, the door moved without a peep. I’m getting the impression this place isn’t as abandoned as advertised. What do you think? As his eyes adjusted to the near pitch black, Enry laid out over the tile around his feet, feeling the ground. Two sets of footsteps were coming his way. Best we let them feel like they have the element of surprise, eh?

Whoever they were, they moved swiftly. Still adjusting, Capin caught a glint off one of their eyes set into the outline of a black dogs head. When he swung his weapon it hissed through the air. “Ooops!” When the blade met its target, he wasn’t there. It slammed and stuck into the door, the loud noise echoing around the room. Capin grabbed the man and yanked him into the long handle of his own weapon before swinging him round against his partner. “Look out.” The pair tumbled to the ground but quickly recovered, moving back to onto the offense. Capin didn’t bother wasting much time in putting them back down.

He crouched over one of the unconscious bodies. He was clad all in black, an almost military style garb, not wholly unlike Strategoi’s special ops. Well, except for black animal head, a jackal to be specific. “Great.” Capin slid the mask from the limp body and held it up. “Well, this just screams ‘cult’.”

There are many groups that follow the god Anubis. He tilted it and looked inside. There was a green glow of low-light vision. In fact, not all of them are bad.

He dropped it. “And how many of those ‘many’ are backed by ‘raw, ancient power’?” he asked, moving around the first floor.

Not many.

“And of that not many, how many are not bad?”

There was a pause. There’s a few.

“I’m going to go out on a limb here and say our boys aren’t one of the few.”

Ten minutes later, he’d checked the whole floor and cleared out five more people. He’d taken two of those minutes to secure the location of the secret passage way he was standing in front of from a grudgingly helpful cultist. He could hear the murmur of voices growing as he took each step further down into the basement. He could imagine the scene he’d find. A hundred of these guys facing the high priest at the head of the room who stood with his arms open to the heavens behind a massive golden altar. He’d step out and cough and they’d all turn. But Capin knew better. He knew he’d step through that door, and they’d all be standing there looking at him. They’d probably armed too.

Well there wasn’t a hundred. It was closer to fifty, but they were armed and facing him. And the man at the back of the room had his arms folded across his chest. And the altar was stone, not gold. The Jackal heads cocked to the side like a pack of curious dogs. “Hello,” he said waving. In turn they gripped their long staffs… and waited.

“Hmm.” The figure behind the altar leaned forward, that ornate black dog head examining him carefully. “You are decidedly not the Mid-Night Man.”

This isn’t good. She sounded concerned.

“This is true.” Capin took another step forward. Enry was all a flutter with the anticipation of the fight to come, dying to let loose since that night on boat. “He wears a hat.”

No joking, Capin. This man is trouble. Big trouble.

He took another step. “I couldn’t keep a hat on my head if I stapled it there.”

“Kill him.” And with two words it started. Fifty odd men launched themselves at the lone intruder. Fighting such a large group has its advantages. More often than not they tend to get in each other’s way. On top of that it is rather difficult to swing a poleax with so many of your comrades in such close quarters. On the other hand, fighting cultists has a lot of downsides. They tend to be zealots. Zealots will fight you with all their might until they’ve lost every last breath and ounce of blood.

With such overwhelming numbers there was no use for finesse. Nobody would see it anyway. So every movement had function. For every block an offensive connection. For every hit you’re forced to take, hand out two or three. Capin’s fist shattered another mask as the cape shredded three more of those sharp axes from their owners hands. Ak-Fet Sur. That man has the power of a god at his fingertips.

“Great. Then you might want-” He took another hit across the chin. Using the man’s momentum he grabbed his head and pulled it into his knee, kicking him back over the coming wave. “You might want to get down here.”

There was no response. He continued to push forward toward Ak-Fet Sur. The closer he came the harder his minions fought to keep him back. “You fight well.” Ak-Fet Sur stepped around the altar, picking up a staff as he did. “I can see why TAROT is concerned of your existence, my child.” Their numbers were thinning. Capin started just working their pressure points. It kept them from coming back as strong if at all. “But I shall remove this concern anyway.”

He raised the staff and smacked it down on the ground. A shockwave blasted across the room, sending Capin tumbling backward over the trail of fallen bodies. Enry gripped the floor, skidding them to a halt. Capin wiped the blood from his chin with the back of his fist. “So much for that pair of twos.” He got up. “Cool trick. I always thought magic was mostly smoke, mirrors, and sleight of hand.” Enry scooped up several fallen shafts and flung them into the air. They rushed behind them, making up the lost ground.

With a raised hand, Ak-Fet Sur sent the projectiles hurling backward, but Capin slipped through them, getting close enough to land an attack. The Would-Be-God stumbled back against his stone altar. “Boo.” He landed another, cracking the staff in two and sending the villain backwards over top.

“Insect!” Ak-Fet Sur hissed, gripping the massive stone table and tossed it aside. His hands sparked with an almost liquid energy. Feet away Capin could feel the heat.

“I’ve been told I bug people, but insect? This is a first.”

Ak-Fet Sur’s hands erupted in a blast of plasma energy, too fast and close for the Dapper Detective to ever dodge. He threw himself backward, balling up, his eyes scrunched tight. Instinctively Enry wrapped them up, and they braced for impact. The heat was immense, but the inevitable instant incineration didn’t come. He opened one eye.

They were encased in a glimmering bubble of energy. Ak-Fet Sur’s attack still sizzled off inches from his face. “I spy with my little eye something beginning with HAH!” Across the room, Melody Chang stood in deep concentration, a crystal in one hand held against her chest, continuing some soft mantra.

“Infidels,” he snarled.

Capin took the moment of surprise Melody had given; as Ak-Fet Sur was turning his assault on her, hurling his balls of energy her way instead, the barrage leaving her surrounded by craters. Capin could feel the frustration behind the mask of Anubis. Now it was time to see it. Sneaking close enough for comfort, he slipped into a flurry of attacks, knocking off the man’s aim. In theory, if he stayed close enough, Sur couldn’t retaliate with any of his fancy tricks. Hit after hit, the mask started to crack along the side.

One good… Enry locked onto Ak-Fet Sur’s wrists, holding them aside and Capin delivered the blow. As the mask shattered, Sur unleashed a furious shockwave. Once again, the Dapper Detective was sent hurling backward over some stray pews.

“You impudent, cur.” Both men struggled to their feet. Enry hung heavy and lip over Capin’s shoulders, having taken the brunt of the attack. The walls around them shook, settling uneasily.

“Samuel Hammerstone?” Melody was at Capin’s side, helping him up. Around them bits of the ceiling and support towers started to chip and fall. “We need to get out of here.”

“No argument there,” he said, slinging his arm over her shoulder. Clearly she was beat but she mustered up the energy anyway. “What about our dog faced boy?” Looking up he found that Ak-Fet Sur was already gone.

“Come on.” The two of them rushed back through the building and out. Falling into the street they could hear the building collapsing into itself. Capin rolled over and watched the old marquee smash against the ground.

“You alright?” He put his arm around her.

“I’m alright.”

Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.