First time reading? Start at the beginning here.
HQ was in chaos.
As the police car pulled up to the security gate, Dave could see a crowd of people in the parking lot and hear the faint sound of an alarm. The security guard was gesturing frantically in his booth as he spoke on the phone, and there were three cars in front of them waiting for entry. Dave couldn’t wait that long.
“Thank you for the ride,” he told the officer in the driver’s seat. Then he got out and jogged towards the building. Yuna followed him, and when the security guard caught sight of them, he waved them forward with a look of relief.
When they reached the crowd, Dave had to slow down and say “excuse me” loudly. He couldn’t push his way through. Exhaustion and nerves left him manic, and he was bound to accidentally hurt someone. As people noticed him and Yuna, they nudged their neighbors, and the crowd began to part for them. Dave searched faces for Moreen or Walter or someone else who could tell him what the heck was going on. Then he caught sight of the building’s entrance and stopped short.
It was completely demolished, broken glass on the pavement sparkling in the morning sunlight. Inside the lobby, he could make out two abandoned SUVs that must have crashed through the front doors. People were moving around inside, so Dave hurried forward, Yuna right behind him. Dave felt chilled, and he didn’t know whether to blame dread or the fact that he was still cold and damp from fighting Tidal Wave. Shards of glass crunched under his boots as he walked inside.
Security guards and agents were scattered about. Two people lay bleeding on the floor, and others clustered around them and put pressure on their wounds. The alarm was louder inside the building, and one of the injured let out a pained cry.
“What happened here?” Dave asked.
Three people tried to explain at once, but Dave got the gist of it. Blueblood, the Black Valentine, and another supervillain had broken in with a bunch of men and wrecked the place.
“Where are they?” Dave asked. “Are they still here?”
No one could answer.
“Seventh floor!” shouted another guard near the front desk. “The security cameras had them on the seventh floor near Records a minute ago. I don’t know if they’re still there. Some kind of smoke is blocking the camera.”
Dave did some quick thinking and turned to Yuna. “We should split up. I’ll head upstairs and try to flush them out. You grab as many agents as you can and form a perimeter around the building to catch them as they try to leave.”
Yuna nodded. Her broken arm made Dave worry, but she wouldn’t need to fight anyone hand-to-hand to slow them down.
“And tell someone to clear the civilians farther away from the building,” he said. “If Blueblood and the others leave as violently as they came in, people are going to get hurt.”
They split up. Not trusting the elevator, Dave took the stairs. Worry urged him faster, and he ran up the steps two at a time. He didn’t like the idea of the person who’d tortured him being here, in the place he worked, ate, and joked around with friends. And just what was Blueblood after? It was obvious in hindsight that Tidal Wave had been a distraction, but a distraction from what? And how was Val involved?
He thought back to the people in the lobby with a pang, to blood-soaked hands pressed desperately against wounds. Ambulances had better come soon. It was lucky this had happened on a Saturday when fewer people were working, or else there would have been even more injuries. Or maybe it wasn’t luck. Blueblood and the Black Valentine had used the parade as a distraction. Maybe they’d planned their break-in for a weekend thinking there would be less security.
He neared the seventh floor and tensed as he saw people on the staircase. Normally, he would have heard them before seeing them, but not with the alarm sounding. A quick check showed them to be agents, not enemies, and they looked like they needed help. Most were slumped against the wall and railing, coughing, and at least one had a gunshot wound. Dave spotted Walter and picked up his pace. His eyes started stinging and tearing up, and he blinked rapidly.
“Del Toro.” Walter saw him. “Good. We counted three of them, plus Blueblood and the Black Valentine. They’re holed up in the records room. Grab a mask and get in there.”
Walter’s sleeve was torn, blood staining the fabric of his shirt. Dave pointed and started to ask if he was alright.
“Yeah, yeah, I’ve been shot. Thanks for asking.” Walter shoved a gas mask into Dave’s hand. “We can’t get in close. You can. Take out the guys laying down fire, and we’ll follow.”
Dave struggled to arrange the gas mask over his white domino mask. His stinging eyes made sense now. “They used tear gas?”
“No. I did.”
“Just go.” Walter shoved him towards the door, and Dave let himself be shoved.
“And Del Toro.” Walter leveled him with a grim look. “Be careful. Especially around Blueblood.”
Dave nodded and went through the door alone.
The tear gas was much thicker in the hallway than the stairwell, forming a white fog that kept Dave from seeing more than a few feet ahead. It would be torturous without a gas mask, making him glad he had one despite how it pinched against his face. He walked cautiously forward, alert for any sign of movement. Walter had mentioned three gunmen, so Dave expected to feel the sting of a bullet any second now. He wasn’t too worried, though it would cause a problem if one of the shooters damaged his mask.
He walked farther and farther without seeing anyone. It was an eerie feeling, walking alone down the deserted, hazy hallway, gas mask on his face. He felt like the lone survivor of an apocalypse. Every time he passed a door, opened or closed, he would check inside, but the offices were all empty. Everything was still except for the tear gas drifting through the air.
Where were the gunshots? Dave expected to have gotten attacked by now. The shooters must have been incapacitated by the tear gas, he realized. Maybe this wouldn’t be so hard after all. Dave could just grab them and drag them out into the stairwell. They’d probably be grateful to get away from the gas and wouldn’t even struggle much. He strained his ears, trying to hear any coughing or sobbing over the blaring alarm as he closed in on his destination.
The plaque reading “Records” was barely visible through the haze. Dave edged cautiously around the doorframe, ready to launch himself at the first person he saw.
Nothing. The room was empty. Dave walked fully across the threshold to look around, but there was no one hiding behind the crowded shelves or crouched down and suffering from the tear gas. If anyone had been here, they were gone now. Had the gas driven them away?
A computer on the desk closest to the door was turned on, its chair pushed aside. Dave walked closer to see if it held a clue to why the supervillains had come here. The rectangular screen illuminated the surrounding gas like headlights in a fog, and Dave had to lean in close to make out the words on it.
Names. Dave recognized most of them, and even if he hadn’t, their superhero codenames were listed beside them, along with addresses, phone numbers, and a slew of other information. A pop-up in the center of the screen read “Save Completed.”
Dave staggered back, feeling like the building had just crashed down on him. He grew suddenly dizzy and grabbed the chair for support, but he knocked it to the floor. The List…. They’d gotten a copy of the List.
And they were gone.
And that’s the end. The bad guys win. Story’s over.
I hope everyone in the States is gearing up for a fun Halloween or else already had a party over the weekend. I’m not doing anything special, though I rewatched The Nightmare Before Christmas to get in the mood. There was already Christmas stuff up at stores when I went shopping yesterday, which is not cool.
We’re back to Moreen’s POV next Monday. Have a great week!