Flynn Archer, Sandra Pierce with mention of Aiden Parker
Time & Place: Who knows?
Flynn decided this was a prison long before he was escorted to his “quarters”.
They wouldn’t tell him a damn thing. They wouldn’t answer his questions, beyond giving him bland PR bullshit about Eidolon being an “organization that helps the world”, blah blah blah. Everyone believed they were doing good; every bloodsucking bastard out there had what they felt was a good reason for doing their sick shit. That’s what made evil so insidious. It was bland and boring and could spin a confident web of “it’s really in everyones best interest” linguistic hoodoo that you would swear was an Amnesty International press release when it was really advocating wiping Amnesty International off the face of the Earth. All Flynn really knew was life was one big shell game, and everybody rigged the table for their own benefit. The best you could hope for was their benefit was your benefit as well.
Maybe Eidolon really were as well-meaning and good as they claimed. But he couldn’t trust anyone who presented themselves through a corporate talking head who could only mouth platitudes that seemed to have the CEO’s seal of approval. That’s all Pierce was, someone’s puppet. Who was pulling the strings? Probably not the Russian mob, he had a feeling they really didn’t do subtle, but then who?
Where he was, wherever he was, was no help at all. He seemed to be in a very large building with metallic walls and industrial gray carpeting, and there weren’t a lot of people around, at least not where he was. Save for his big goon companions, who never talked, no matter how much he goaded them. “So, are you guys into dudes or chicks?” he asked, making one last stab at getting to them as they led him down a long corridor. “Or do you not care as long as you’re drunk enough? ‘Cause I knew this one guy down in Resida who said he was straight, but you got half a bottle of Jack into him and he was anyone’s fuck toy. He -”
“We’re here,” the first one said, as he opened a door at the end of the corridor. There was an edge to his voice, an implied “shut the fuck up”. Well, at least Flynn knew he was straight.
Flynn looked in. It was a small room that looked like a hotel room. Brown carpet instead of gray, but the walls were still metal, not even livened up by a bad painting. There was a small single bed in the center of the room, a nightstand with an ugly ceramic lamp, and a small door that led off to a private bathroom. That was it? “No TV?” Flynn asked. “What if I want to watch some porn?” The goons just glared at him. Had they no sense of humor? “What about my one phone call? I should get that.”
“This isn’t a jail,” the second goon said, with a barely suppressed sigh.
“Oh? Then why won’t you let me call anyone?”
They didn’t answer him, but he really didn’t expect them to. One of them gave him a slight push in the lower back, sending him stumbling into the room, and they shut the door before he could turn around. It shut with a heavy clunk, letting him know a lock had engaged. “Hey!” he shouted pointlessly, banging the door with his fist. “You guys are douche bags, you know that?!”
He then shook his hand, as the door was hollow core metal, and it fucking hurt. He was glad he didn’t punch it at full strength, as he’d probably have broken his hand.
Examining the door, he found it had a heavy duty industrial knob, the kind with no exposed screws, seams, or openings, which meant picking it would be impossible. But there was a metal plate underneath the knob, and there appeared to be a tiny seam where it met the door. He tried to get his fingernails under it, but no go. Of course it wasn’t going to be that easy. Did he really think it would?
The room was plain, and what he saw originally was all there was to see. They didn’t exactly break the bank furnishing this place. Not only was it cheap, but it kept any potential weapons or tools out of his grasp. Wonderful. “Thought of everything, huh?” He said it aloud because he was fairly sure he was being monitored, even if he didn’t see any cameras.
He went to take a piss, and the bathroom was as sadly small and utilitarian as the rest of the place. Even the mirror was plastic, not glass but some reflective coating. Not that he cared, glass wouldn’t help, but the metal frame might have.
He looked around the main room, but there was nothing new. The bed frame was basic, metal, but welded together, so he couldn’t do anything with it. It suddenly occurred to him there wasn’t a window in here, but then again, he couldn’t remember seeing a single window anywhere. Weird. That probably meant something, but he wasn’t sure what right now. At least he knew they were up to something not kosher, mainly because they refused to tell him anything. As a person with something to hide, he knew people hid things for damn good reasons, but they were almost never good.
He thought about breaking the lamp to be a dick, but they probably expected that. He crouched down to look under the bed, and felt like an idiot. Did he think someone left a tool kit behind? But while there, he looked at the nightstand. It had rather pointless decorative wood slats nailed to it, which he hated, mainly because they just made them look uglier.
Before he could stand, he suddenly realized something: nailed to the table. Of course.
Flynn stood and swept the lamp off the nightstand, and picked up the table and threw it hard against the far wall. It cracked, but didn’t break as it bounced down onto the floor. Flynn stomped the table, grabbing hold of the top as he kicked in the side. It finally broke like a cheap Ikea piece of crap, and just like he expected, it wasn’t just held together with glue.
He picked out about a half dozen small wood nails from the wreckage, and returned to the door. He was able to wedge the point of the nails in the seam of the plate, but attempting to pry it off bent three nails until they were useless. Still, he was able to move it enough that he could get his fingertips beneath it, and pried up the plate.
Beneath it was a tangle of multicolored wires, telling him it was an electronic lock. After some trial and error – and a couple burnt fingertips – he found the right wires. As soon as he crossed them, he heard as well as felt the lock retract with a hearty clunk.
Flynn tossed the rest of the nails aside and opened the door, leaving at a run, figuring he wouldn’t have long. He had to stop almost immediately, and even then, he almost collided with Pierce, standing in the center of the hallway with a clipboard. Far beyond her, he saw the shadows of his big thug friends.
She didn’t seem surprised to see him. In fact, she made a note of some kind on her clipboard, and said, “Frankly, I thought you’d break out sooner.”
“Sorry to disappoint you,” he replied sarcastically, before his anger kicked in. “This was a fucking test?”
“We know you, Mr. Archer. We knew you’d never believe we aren’t nefarious, so we thought it might be instructional to see how long it would take you to escape.”
Flynn ran a hand through his hair, so furious he was nearly paralyzed by it. “Just tell me the fucking truth! Who the hell are you people, what do you expect of me?”
She sighed wearily, and lowered her clipboard, holding it loosely at her side. “I have told you the truth. There are some things I can’t tell you because they’re on a need to know basis, and your security clearance is at the entry level right now.”
Flynn glowered at her. “Oh, bra-vo. That doesn’t sound sinister at all.”
She fixed him with a look that was slightly less chilly than he expected. “Work with us, Mr. Archer, and I promise you it will be worth your while.”
“Ah, great, this is where you wave money in my face like I’m a hooker, right? Better be good, ‘cause I’m an expensive whore.”
“For a couple of days, work with us. Humor us. And you will be reunited with Mr. Parker.”
Aiden’s name made Flynn tense. He was aware the big goons were now close, but he was already making plans to get past them. Pierce was nothing. Even if she could bust out some Maggie Q martial arts moves, she was a middle aged woman who, quite frankly, looked like she’d never wrestled anything more truculent than a shopping cart with a bad wheel. She was nothing in a battle equation except perhaps something he could use. He could shove her into the goon on the left hand side, and his move to catch her would mean he’d only have to get past the goon on the right. Difficult, but doable, as long as he was faster than that golem. He was willing to bet his life he was. “Is he here? If you’ve hurt him …”
“Oh please, Mr. Archer, we’re not thugs. He isn’t here, but we know where he is, and we’d be happy to reunite the pair of you. But if you want to keep him safe from the mobsters currently hunting you down, it would be in both of your best interests to work with us.”
Goddamn it! Was there a dirtier trick in the world than to throw down the Aiden card? And if she was telling the truth – big if; subway car sized if – she was right. Aiden was the weak link; if the mob wanted to make him hurt, they’d go after him first and save Flynn for last. It wasn’t like he had any family the mob could kill first, as they’d already hunted them all down. They knew he had no family left, and it was a good bet they knew from Vale that all he had was Aiden. That was as good as slapping a big GPS enabled target on his back, with the words “Aim Here” written on his forehead. And it was all his fault. No, strike that, it was all his father’s fault. He was the one who got mixed up with the mob in the first place, and everyone else had to suffer for it. “If I -” he paused. He had to force himself to say it. “If I work with you, you protect Aiden.”
“I assure you, Mr. Archer, we have no interest in -”
“Listen to me,” he interrupted, forcefully enough that the two goons were now glaring at him. “This is a non-negotiable point. I will be your goddamn puppet, but you protect him. Full stop. If he is not protected, if he is hurt in any way, I will burn this place to the fucking ground.”
The goons really didn’t like that. Eye fucking him wasn’t enough anymore, they were converging on him, but Pierce held up her hand, making them suddenly stop. They didn’t look happy about it, though. “I think we have an agreement then, Mr. Archer. Would you like to be taken to your real quarters now?”
“Do I have a choice?”
She smiled at him but didn’t say a word, simply stepped off to one side and held out her hand, as if showcasing this beautiful hallway. He glared at the gorillas, but they seemed to be his escorts, so with reluctance he followed the first, the second one following right behind him. He was the filling of an ugly sandwich.
Flynn had no idea who he’d really just made a deal with, but he was reasonably certain calling it a deal with the devil wasn’t an exaggeration. Now he had to figure out how to get him and Aiden out of it without getting them both killed.
When Pierce returned to her office, there was a call waiting for her. She put in on speaker as she sorted through her paperwork. “Report,” the voice said.
“Satisfactory,” she replied. “His ingenuity is impressive, although subtlety isn’t his strong suit. He doesn’t trust us, and we won’t be able to trust him.”
“Will he be able to unlock it?”
“I think, right now, he’s our best bet. But he will become a liability sooner rather than later.”
“That’s what we expected. Prepare the contingency plan.”
“Already on it,” she said, dropping Flynn’s files in a desk drawer.
She hoped Flynn fell into line pretty quickly, because replacing him was going to be a paperwork nightmare.