Friday, March 7, 2014

Friends and Enemies // Chapter Twenty Two // The Orphanage

   Willow had to jog to keep up with Ashalah's long strides. Though the princess wasn't much older than she, she sure was taller. A good four inches at least.
   "Wait up, Shar!" she panted, hurrying until she was shoulder to shoulder with her.
   "Night is falling," Asharlah stated, nodding above the gigantic trees, where the sky had turned pale purple and the sun was sinking out of sight.
   "Great," muttered her guide, pulling out and inspecting her map. "Let's seeee, I think we're close enough to the Ruined Place that we can hunker down there for the night, as long as we don't run into any Shadow errand boys," she commented with a shiver.
   "Shadow errand boys?" Asharlah inquired, lifting her skirts daintily as she stepped over a tiny stream running across their path.
   "Yep. Last time I was there, there was some creep named Serious Blackfeather. He tried to kidnap me." Willow informed her as she splashed through the stream.
   "Sirius Darkfeather?" Asharlah corrected.
   "Yeah, him. He was talking to some guy he called Ketennith, but Emmeth told me that it's some sort of under-cover name you guys use here. Kind of like John Smith or John Doe back home, I guess."
   Asharlah nodded. "I know."
   Willow glanced back at her map. "We should be right about there." She pointed up. "See the spires?"
   Asharlah nodded. "Do you think Shadow will be there? I mean, I suppose that if Sirius could get in, anyone could get in."
   Willow chewed her lip. "I'll check it out. Wait here. Brb. Oh, uh, be right back."
   She gave her a quick wave and darted up to a tree that had grown next to one of the windows. Stuffing the map in her pocket, she hopped up and down until she caught the lowest handing branch with her left hand. Then hand-over-hand, she clambered up the tree and swung neatly into the open window.
   "Hello?" she whispered into the darkness. Nothing answered. As quietly as she could, she lifted her bow off her back and laid an arrow on its string. Gently, she tugged it into firing position. Than silently, as she'd been taught, she crept through the deserted halls. All she found was piles of dust. And then...
   "Willow?" a male voice asked incredulously behind her.
   She was so startled that she spun around and almost fired her arrow point-blank at the unknown person. Luckily, Betromith had fast instincts. He knocked her arm with the broad side of his sword so she fired into the ground.
   "Willow!" Hyaline cried, throwing her arms around her friend.
   "Sorry, Betromith, Hyaline," Willow apologized over Hyaline's shoulder as her friend squeezed her tightly.
   Betromith grunted and looked irratated, but said nothing. "You should look before you leap."
   "Oh, can Willow come along?" Hyaline let her friend go and now was looking hopefully at Betromith.
   "Come along to where?" Willow asked, picking up her bow and slinging it over her shoulder again.
   Betromith sighed, but his face softened as he gazed at Hyaline. "I suppose she couldn't hurt anything," he relented.
   "Hurt wha- oh! I left Asharlah outside! I'll be right back!" Willow pranced over to the door, shoved it open, and yelled for Asharlah, who hurried up looking worried.
   "Guys, this is Asharlah, Emmeth's cousin. Asharlah, this is Betromith and Hyaline."
   "And I am Shemesh," a guy's voice added. Shemesh stepped out of a dark doorway, laden with rope and hooded cloaks.
   Asharlah and Hyaline exchanged pleasant smiles, though Willow noted Hyaline's smile looked a bit forced. Betromith and Shemesh both bowed politely.
   "I would be glad to escort Lady Asharlah to Essgarothe if you two want to bring Willow with you to the Orphanage," Shemesh offered.
   Willow cocked an eyebrow at Asharlah, who nodded. "Shemesh and I already know each other," she explained.
   "Okay then. But, um, orphanage?" Willow inquired. "Why are you going to an orphanage?"
   Betromith nodded. "Well, when I joined the prince, I left my young siblings in the care of my aunt, for my parents are dead." He sighed deeply. Hyaline reached out and took his hand comfortingly. "But the new "king" found out about them, and has had my sister kidnapped and taken to a newly established orphanage that uses the children of political enemies for forced labor."
   Hyaline sighed as well. "Brédin is safe, but Bréda is not. We fear for them both, so we are rescuing them."
   Willow nodded. "Of course I'll help. When do we start?"
   Shemesh cleared his throat. "If I may, we were going to start tomorrow night, for the guards are not very watchful in the late hours."
   Hyaline agreed. "Yes, that seems to be the best time to slip in unnoticed."
   "We decided to have Brédin help us, because he's just a child, no one will notice him."
   "Does it always rain here?" Willow grunted as they trudged up the back pathway of Betromith's aunt's cottage.
   "Not always," Hyaline sputtered, trying to brush the cascading water droplets off of her face, hair and hooded cloak.
   "We're here," Betromith announced, rapping on the door.
   "Who is it?" a young boy's voice called over the sound of the pounding rain.
   "Your big brother!" Betromith called back, his face breaking into the first smile Willow had ever seen on him.
   "Betro!" A young boy, about ten or so, raced out and leaped into Betromith's arms with pure happiness. The girls grinned at his enthusiasm.
   "Betromith? Is that you?" A tired looking woman appeared in the doorway, carrying a stack of newly folded laundry.
   "Aunt Loriana, are you well?" Betromith hitched his little brother onto his hip and carried him up the steps to greet his aunt. "It is good to see you."
   "It is good to see you as well, nephew. Who are these young ladies?" Loraina indicated the girls.
   "This is Hyaline of Gossgath, and this is Willow Elvish-grace," Betromith indicated each with a hand wave. Both girls nodded politely.
   "Hello," Loraina greeted them warmly. "Please come in. Brédin is the only other person here right now."
   "I hope we're not being a bother," Hyaline commented as they were shown into a pretty sitting room.
   "Of course not! Any friends of Betro's are welcome here."
   "Betro, are you gonna get Bréda back?" Brédin questioned his big brother as he leaned on his shoulder.
   "Yes I am, Bréd. We're going to get her back tomorrow."

   "I hope you have a plan, Betro." Willow remarked as the four of them peered through Loraina's shop window at the looming, shadowy building across the street called The Orphanage.
   "It looks as though a funeral should be taking place there instead of being a children's home," Hyaline remarked, pinching her lips together sceptically.
   "Poor Bréda," Brédin sighed.
   Betromith nodded at them. "Ready?"
   They nodded back. "Ready."

   "Are you sure this is safe?" Hyaline whispered as they scaled the black metal fence and slipped around to the back of the building.
   "There's five guards," Willow noted as she jogged back to the little group. "I say the roof's the easiest way in."
   Betromith nodded. "I thought you could, perhaps, if you agree, climb down to get Bréda, and then we will meet you back here."
   Willow nodded. "Sure. Sounds pretty easy. Well, moderately. I'm glad I don't look like me," she grinned and indicated her boys' clothing. "Let's go."


   "Are you sure you want to do this?" Betromith double-checked with Willow as he tied off the rope at the top of the building as the rain drummed at the tin roof.
   "I'm sure," she assured him as she double-checked the rope to make sure it was tight. "I'm smallest, and quickest, so I'll be in and outta there in no time. No problem. See you at the front door."
  I sure hope this rope doesn't break, Willow thought nervously, climbing down hand over hand, using her feet to guide herself down the dark wall. Ah, the window ledge. Perfect.
   She edged closer to the window, praying that the ledge wouldn't give way. Gently, she rapped on the pane with her knuckles. Rat tat tat tat. The window creaked open, and a shaggy head poked out.
   "Are you an angel?" whispered the girl with shaggy light brown hair, her dirty face streaked with tears.
   "No, I'm not," she replied in a whisper as she swung into the cramped room. "My name is Willow, like the tree. I'm here to get you out of here, Bréda. Will you help us? Your brother's waiting outside."
   "Betro?" she asked, her eyes lighting up.
   "Yes, but we need to hurry and get you out. Here, I brought you some different clothes." Willow dropped her satchel onto the dusty wood floor and retrieved an outfit of Brédin's.
   "You'll need to pretend to be a boy now, Bréda. It's easier because we can wear pants, and you can do more when you wear pants. I know it'll be weird, but look at me, I'm pretending too." To emphasize her point, Willow plucked the boy's hat she was wearing and unwound a long braid from under it. "See? Piece of cake. Now hurry."
   Willow hurriedly helped Bréda into the clothes, which where slightly too big for her. To finish off the look, Willow braided her hair and pinned it up, so it looked short, than plopped a worn cap over it.
   "Who are you, I mean really?" the little girl asked, tugging at Willow's borrowed shirt sleeve. "You are not like us. You are not from here, so where are you from?"
   Willow knelt in front of her, and her eyes grew serious. "I have many titles, Bréda. Some people call me Elvish-grace, because of this ring I wear," she explained, showing her her right hand and the golden ring on her pointer finger. "Some call me even stranger things, but please, if you want to be free, we have to leave now."
   Bréda nodded, but her eyes clouded over. "I'm scared," she hissed as she grabbed hold of Willow's hand.
   Squeezing it comfortingly, Willow smiled. "It's all right. The Author will watch over us. Now follow me."

I know that wasn't my best chapter, but it was a long time comin' and I knew I had to post something. But the upcoming chapter should have some fun action scenes. 

Announcements - D posted chapter sixteen of TWF, so you can check that out on the story Links page. Also, the character of Lila Norris - played by Evangeline Lilly - is actually my character as she points out. You can see her picture on the characters page in the Watchmen Files section.

Be a friend, not an enemy,

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Watchmen Files // File One // Chapter Sixteen // Infiltrating the Factory

Hello, everybody!

   Okay, so I've got some stuff to say... I forgot to add this to the last chapter.

   Days, weeks, then months had passed after the crash landing in California as the two continued training with each other. They learned plenty of information, Conner delved a little deeper into the computers aspect (seeing that Mason didn't know a thing about them) and exercising (he lost weight and gained muscles), as Mason practiced stealth and agility. Conner helped him with his ability, giving him ways to keep his cool and not make sudden outbursts. He was learning to control his temper and use his ability properly, but still had plenty of trouble with it.

   Then they got a mission before they had even finished training, which was completely unheard of at the time. But seeing no other way to locate Ava, Mason and Conner dived heard first into a dangerous facility that was being run by InterTech, a black market dealing industry.

   And that's where we pick up on the storyline, I just had to add that :)

   The dark shadows cast by the moon's dim light receded as the overcast sky lightened with the early morning sun's rays, unviewable from under the clouds but beaming above them. On the rooftop of an old broken down abandon factory crouched Conner, marveling as all of this occurred in front of his eyes. The sun was probably blazing up there. It must be so beautiful, he mentally noted in awe of God's creation. If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars-
   "Got it," Mason, his partner broke his thoughts as he finished cutting the wires to the vent. Sighing, he put his hand on Conner's arm. "See you at the getaway point. Don't you die on me just yet."
   "I'm not the one who has to worry about that," he mussed, and keeping his head down, crawled through the large air ventilation on his hands and knees. Soon he reached a split and, as his text/orders told him, took the right tunnel and continued on.
   Mason smirked and crawled after him, and taking a left at the turn of the tunnel. As his kneecaps began getting sore and the stale air from the unused vents began to wear on him, his cellphone vibrated and a message came on the screen with his orders.
   When the tunnel ended he was inside the factory's largest production line. Bellow him, workers dressed in black uniforms treated the sheets of a shiny metal (most likely titanium) tediously, shaping, refining, and molding it into large sheets and tiny bullets. The assembly lines moved quickly as they hurried to meet their demanding deadline set by Hydra.
   There was an overhanging bridge bellow him, extending from one end of the room to the other. Taking great care not to make it rattle, Mason stepped out of the vent and onto the wobbly bridge that stretched over the middle of the warehouse-like room. It was at least twenty to thirty feet off of the ground and was being held to the ceiling by chains, making it wobble precariously above the bustling workers below.
   Mason wasn't afraid of heights, he had always been the daredevil in his school field-trips, though that had gotten him into plenty of trouble with the principal. But there was something about teetering above people that would kill you if you made a sound that made him cautious.
   He took one step, then two while keeping his arms out to either side of him to keep his balance. After traveling about fifteen feet, he heard a shout from bellow and his head snapped to attention.
   A woman, probably in her late to middle thirties with short wavy brown hair that was dyed blond at the ends was storming into the facility and shouting commands in a British accent at the workers. "Come on people, we have a deadline to meet!"
   Whew, wouldn't want to get on her wrong side, Mason concluded and continued to sneak along the narrow bridge. Suddenly, he heard the sound of a cellphone ringing.
   On the floor, the brown haired woman pulled a phone out and answered. "Dominik, I already told you, we're going as fast as we can here!"
   Mason's ears perked. Did she say Dominik? As in Dominik Kruger? He couldn't miss this. What if he was with Ava?
   "Hold on, I can't hear you in here... let me step inside..." she strutted off on her killer high heels though a door and out of the room.
   Mason was torn. He had four minutes to get to the power room and disable the records room door so Conner could get though. But Dominik was on the phone, if he could track the call or even snitch the number, he could find Ava. It couldn't take more than one or two minutes to get the phone from Mrs. Sassy, then if he hurried, he could get back in time and help Conner. He made his choice and rushed over the rest of the overhanging bridge and into the next vent. Instead of continuing down it, he hung a right and stopped in front of the vent cover thingy and peered through.
   She plopped down in her chair and propped her feet up on the table, phone in hand. "Look mister, don't play around with me. I've got plenty of other deadlines to meet as it is. The best I can do is finish this order by tonight and ship it out tomorrow morning. Does that make you happy?"
   The paused, then continued. "Good. I'll call you back once we finish." She hopped up off the chair, threw the phone on the table and looked out the window at her minions working their tails off.
   With her back turned to him, Mason carefully crept out of the vent and reached over the table top for the cellphone. Stretching as much as he could in the complete silence, he snatched at the air with his fingertips. It was sitting just inches away. 'Cmon, why couldn't I have been born with longer fingers?
   Gotcha! He snatched the phone off the counter and turned back fast.
   A shot rang out from behind him, he felt a shock of pain in his hand and dropped the phone immediately. He grasped his hand as his blood ran down his arm from the bullet wound.
   The woman smiled cruelly, her arm outstretched and a smoking futuristic pistol in hand.
   At her command, the room filled with thugs, blocking all exits, from the back door to the vent.
   "Oh Kruger," she spat. "If only there was somebody who could rescue you."
   Clenching his fists from the pain, Mason's heart beat like a sledge hammer in his ears. He saw only one way out of this.
   He charged at her, shoulders first. She swerved to the side and he crashed through the observation window into the construction floor. The workers gasped and screeched, running away from the intruder as the thugs and their commander came through the shattered window.
   Mason pulled himself off the floor and raced passed the workmen to the other side of the warehouse to the exit door. Inside, there was a staircase leading both up and down. Checking the map on his phone and ignoring the texts, he went down a floor to where the power room was located and through the door.
   Once inside, he crouched near the door and heard his pursuers continue up the staircase and passed by. Breathing deeply with a mix of relief and pain, Mason clutched his hand to try and stop the bleeding. "Good shot," he muttered with further inspection. A shiny silver-colored bullet was wedged near his thumb, but only in skin tissue. Blocking the pain out of his mind (he was surprisingly good at that), he turned to the issue at hand and pulled the stun gun from its holster, just in case.
   Power room, power room... he searched the many doors on that level for some sort of sign. The hallways were concrete from floor to ceiling and yellow caution tape was all over the doors. It looked abandoned, just like the rest of the facility. The owners don't even know these guys are here. He had to admit, they were crafty. In an Madame Evil Genius sort of way.
   This time, the bullet didn't hit flesh but knocked the gun from his hand.
   Whirling around, he saw the short haired hot-shot with that gun again. "Titanium bullets," she smirked. "Made them just for blokes like you." Cocking her gun, she stepped forward as he stepped back.
   "What're you gonna do, shoot me?" he challenged while racking his brain for an escape.
   "Oh no," she held the weapon with one hand and ran her other hand through her short hair. "I wouldn't do that. Hydra wants both of you, alive, preferably."
   There was a loud clang from behind him, and without thinking, Mason turned around and stared into the bright silver glare of light reflecting on metal before feeling a foot in his back and falling forward into the light.
   He rolled around to see that he was in a room no bigger than a broom closet with shiny silver walls. Slamming his fists into the metal, he pulled back quickly from the pain.
   "It's titanium of course," the woman's cutting speech blared through the tiny space. "You silly little boy. You're easy to catch, so quick to jump to conclusions, just like your father. Funny how things run in the family."
   "W... What? What'd you know about my dad?!" he demanded to thin air.
   "You see so much but observe so little. Ah well, you'll find out soon enough once we ship you off to Hydra and I get my extra paycheck... Oh, and I want you to know who the woman that captured the last of the wayward generation is. Lila Norris, everyone!" Her malicious laughter faded into the distance as Mason felt the enclosed box move forward.
   Panicked, he clammed his good first on the walls and desperately yelled for help. "Conner?!"

   "What in blazes could be taking him so long?" Conner muttered to himself as he sat in the ventilation unite above the records room, watching his phone intently for a new text. Every time the time changed a minute he flinched. You have got to be joking...! Finally, just when he looked away, the phone vibrated and he nearly threw the thing he was so startled. 'Changed of plans go to keypad on right side of records room door'.
   He didn't understand why he had to do it then, why hadn't the door just opened? Mason was suppose to get it. But, not wanting to cause a ruckus or take any more time than needed on this crazy venture, Conner gently and carefully took the vent cover off and check both right then left then right again and cautiously tiptoed over to the door. His phone vibrated again and the text read, 'Press buttons 131213'.
   He obeyed and the door opened into a dark empty room. He looked on both sides of the door, and curiously, there was only one thing in the old dirty room: one laptop computer sitting in the direct middle of the floor.
   Following the instructions on how to hack into the thing, Conner found the file he wanted. After downloading it onto a chip and putting it in his phone, he sent the newly acquired information to the Watchmen and waited for further orders.
   Suddenly, he heard someone, or someones heading toward the door. "Criminy! Someone's coming!"
   Hastily, he raced to the open door and pushed it almost all the way closed, only a crack open so he could see though.
   A caravan of big muscular thugs came gallivanting past, surrounding a rectangle human sized box that was being scraped across the concrete floor. Following a short distance after them was a professionally dressed woman wearing a completely white business suit, chatting away on her cellphone. "Yeah, we got a bonus. It's Kruger, we caught him sneaking around where he shouldn't be... Only if you pay double..."
   Conner watched helplessly as she disappeared behind the corner and the hallway filled with a deafening silence. Quickly, he turned his earpiece on and told the Watchman on the other end about the situation.
   The Watchman sighed. "It's your call, C.J.M. You'd be going in blind, we don't have any further maps of where they're going. You're mission objective has been acquired. You can still head off to the escape route."
   It didn't take Conner more than a second to think about it. "Alright then, here I go." Quietly, he crept out of the room and into the hall. Turning the corner, he shot one more look over his shoulder, pulled his stun gun out of its holster and plunged into the darkness after his friend.

And that's chapter sixteen! I never thought I would say that :) Wow, time sure does fly! Well, the next chapter will hopefully be one of my favorites. I've been planning for this one for a while...

Anyway, so this week there are no announcements to make, though I'm not sure if Ammelia or Billie are going to post their stories, so check back to find out :) Oh, and a new character, go ahead and click on the characters page if you want to see what Lila Norris looks like. She is actually Willow's character, all credit goes to her on that part :)

And that's all for today. It wasn't my best, let's just say that, but I hope you all enjoyed that chapter anyway :)

Always Watching,