((80 — Yami no Butou))
July 3rd, 802 AT.
It was the next morning by the time Seth and Reno made it to the Complex. They had spent the previous afternoon doing some basic reconnaissance, and making their way through the city. Transportation would’ve been easier if half of the trams hadn’t been shut down due to riots. Reno somehow managed to remember the address of one of Cyclops’ old hideouts, and they crashed there for the night.
The elevator descended the central spire, heading towards the open areas around its base. The Complex was buried inside that spire, and the only entrance was on one of the faces. For a moment the elevator jerked slower before continuing—presumably the result of a lack of maintenance or attention.
Reno stumbled, feet slipping out from under her, but Seth took a step forward and caught her with one arm, helping her upright. “You alright?”
She nodded slowly, putting a hand to her temple. “Yeah, I’ll be fine.”
He frowned concernedly at her. “You sure?”
Reno looked away, out the window. “I…” She sighed.
“What is it?” Seth sounded uncharacteristically concerned.
“I’m pretty sure my dizzy spells are symptoms of demon withdrawal. I need Caf. The connection… it’s… he’s a part of me. I’m losing track of what’s me, and what’s human, and…” She swallowed hard, but her voice was still flat.
He reached out a hand to her back, almost putting it around her, but held back. “Three weeks of freefall would fuck anybody up, yo.”
“If I concentrate on something calming, I should be fine for now. But I… we shouldn’t stay here too long. It might get more severe.” She turned to face him. “I don’t feel like me, by myself. That’s how I killed that pilot. It wasn’t really me doing it.”
Seth just nodded uncomfortably, not sure how to respond. He was saved by the elevator nearing the ground. “You ready for this?”
Reno smiled. “Yeah. I can do this.”
Outside the wide windows of the elevator, the two Talons could see a large plaza before them, crammed with rioters. "Dayum," breathed Reno. "Look at 'em all."
With a loud hiss of outrushing air, the wood-and-glass elevator gently touched down. The cage door retracted, opening out onto a landing platform, up a few stairs from the plaza. Above them, the crystal spire stretched off almost higher than they could see.
A handful of uniformed guards stood nearby, keeping the riot in check. What had been a riot, anyway. Half the people in the crowd looked unconscious, injured, or similar, and the other half looked about to keel over. It looked like the last dregs of a riot which had been going for days--and, from the radio broadcasts they had overheard on the tram, that's exactly what it was.
“Well shit. Ain’t this pretty.” Seth flicked on a pair of shades he’d had stored in his demon-leather trenchcoat for such an occasion.
“You think we missed the bulk of the heavy crap?” said Reno.
Seth shrugged. “S’pose.” They walked the dozen yards along the edge of the crystal spire to the massive door set into it. Etched above it were the words THE COMPLEX. “Looks like this is the place.” The door was easily three meters tall, a heavily sealed array of steel and bolts and deadlocks. There was a small radio panel set into the crystal next to it.
“…and now the big question,” said Reno, squinting up at the behemoth of a crystal prison. “How the living fuck are we going to get Cyc out of here?"
“Oh, I think we might have our ways.” He gestured to his coat, and to one bulging pocket in particular.
Reno leaned over and examined it. "I have a good feeling that this is the part where you whip out the metric crapton of awesome stuff."
“Sounds ‘bout right. I grabbed some supplies from Cyc’s pad while you were still napping.” He patted the pocket affectionately. “Let’s see if we can get in without this shit, though. Of course, if we can’t get in subtly… then it’s time for the fireworks.”
He walked up the door, looking it over. It didn’t seem particularly guarded, at least from the outside. He took a second look at the people dealing with the riot, and noticed the little COMPLEX logos on their shoulders. Lucky riot.
“Well… let’s try knocking.” Seth strolled over the door and smacked it a few times with his fist. The noise was deep and hollow, an echoing vibration that shuddered through the door.
“Oh,” said Reno, with a hint of disappointment. “I thought you meant knocking with literal fireworks.”
The radio hissed, shutting her up, and a voice asked, “Yes?”
Seth leaned over to the radio. “Yo. Here to visit an old friend. Wanna open the door?”
“I’m sorry, but you’ll have to give me an authorization code for visiting.”
“I’m sorry, did that sound like a question? Let me rephrase that. You want to open the door.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, sir. You’re going to have to leave.”
Seth shook his head and sighed. “No can do, bro.”
Reno leaned into his ear. “Fireworks anytime now, buddy.”
He nodded. “Let’s see here.” He reached into his coat and felt around for a minute. “Ah. This should do nicely.” He pulled out a small glowing crystal, and place it directly in front of the door. “You might wanna take a step back, babe.”
“Okie dokie,” said Reno, obliging.
The crystal pulsed, glowing with... well, it wasn't light. It was an absence of light. The space around it seemed to pulse shadows, as if all the light were being sucked out of it. The air around it rippled, and the crystal seemed to shrink. There was a flash, blinding un-bright, of non-space. The world seemed to ripple, and for a single terrifying moment, a hole opened into absolute nothingness.
The door, the radio, the crystal floor--in the blink of an eye, everything in a two meter radius from the crystal vanished into the black hole, never to be seen again.
Any hint of mental vagueness Reno had at that moment vanished with the door. “WOAH,” she gasped. “What wasn’t that?”
Seth laughed. “Wasn’t not a black hole. Boom, baby.” The hallway on the other side of the vanished crater stretched forward. Seth lit a new cigarette and began to walk forwards. “Let’s raid this place.”
"Aye aye, capitan," saluted Reno, feeling strangely invigorated by the burst of nothingness. Reno hadn't felt this good since before she separated from Caf. It was as though the burst of nothing had subconciously reminded her that there were worse things than being separated from your mental partner.
A small guard post sat to one side of the hall, with the remaining arm and a leg of whoever they had spoken to on the radio. The corridor was moderately well lit by a series of lamps overhead, stretching forward. Various side passages and elevators up and down branched off from the main tunnel. These were marked with various combinations of letters and numbers, denoting... well, to be honest, they had no idea. But they probably denoted something.
“Wonder which one’s got Cyc,” Seth mused as eyed the numbers. “Any ideas, Reno?”
She stood next to him and rubbed her chin in thought. “Let’s seeeeee…” Her chin-finger stopped moving. "Does starting from the bottom and working our way up make any sense?"
“I don’t have any other ideas.”
She grinned. "Or should we just do it the old fashioned way and hold a sharp deadly object to a guard's throat and make him tell us?"
“That’s faster.” Seth shrugged, smiling lazily. “I think we can pull that off. All we need, then, is a guard.”
“A guard and THIS little bugger. I mean dagger.” Reno whipped out the aforementioned sharp, deadly object.
“Excellent. Let’s keep going down this way. Should be a guard post or something.” He began once again to walk. After a few minutes’ walk, they came to a bend, turning left. “Wonder what’s ‘round this corner…” He stepped around it.
The corridor continued along for a good distance. A door was inset into the left side of it, though, with a window-like opening next to it. Anyone on their way through the corridor would have to pass the window.
Seth nodded approvingly. “Bingo. You wanna chat with the bloke? Or shall I?”
Reno grinned. "You know, this is something I've wanted to try for a while, but haven't for weird tomboyish feminist reasons."
“Take it away, my friend,” Seth said, laughing.
((81 — Peeping Tom))
Reno straightened herself, smoothed out her hair, and sauntered over to the guard post in an uncharacteristically sexy way.
The young man sitting inside the window was scribbling away in a journal, eyes down. There was a desk there, cut from the crystal itself, but no glass separating her from him.
“S’cuse me,” she said, lowering the pitch of her voice ever so slightly to induce a more womanly tone. “Sorry for walking in like this. The door was open."
The guard, who didn't look much older than thirteen or fourteen, looked up in surprise. "Wha--?" He shook his head, long brown hair flying out of his eyes. "You're not supposed to be here!"
Reno froze for a moment, startled by how young the boy was, but continued anyway. "Oh, I'm sorry," she said, putting on a slightly more-dramatic-than-necessary tweak to her self-protecting hand movements "But my heart tells me I must be here!"
The boy blinked at her in total confusion. "Um? You should leave! Or uh, I'll call the guards!" He stammered awkwardly with every word. "Er, the other guards."
Seth leaned on a wall—out of sight, around the corner—trying very hard not to laugh.
"You wouldn't do that, would you?" she said, leaning in and putting on heavy layers of passion "My lover was wrongly imprisoned here and I must see him again! Please, kind young man! Please tell me where his cell is!" One side of her jacket conveniently slid down, exposing her shoulder and a bit of her chest.
The boy swallowed hard. "That... that would be against protocol." His eyes strayed rather un-subtly to her chest, then jumped back up to her eyes, as his face turned beet red.
Reno took note of this. "Oh, you don't have a girlfriend, do you? Some sweetheart you miss right now?"
"N-no..." He pushed his chair back from the window slightly, starting to sweat, clearly immensely nervous.
"That's a shame," said Reno "Then...you certainly don't understand how I feel..." Reno inched provocatively close to the guard. "...you don't know what it's like to have someone...special in your arms..."
The boy said nothing, simply staring at her, eyes very wide.
"...so let me put it this way." Reno reached forward and cupped the boy's face in her hands. "You tell me which cell Cyclops is in, and you get a kiss from me. Don't tell me where he is, and I'll kill you." Her sickly sweet tone drizzled over every word.
"...C-Cylops!?" It didn't seem possible, but his eyes widened even further.
"Yessssssss," Reno hissed seductively.
The moment of thought passed through the boy very quickly. "H-he's in solitary confinement... Cell s-seventeen... Down the elevator, end of the hall."
"Wonnnnderful," said Reno, and kept her promise. Her face mashed with the young guard, almost as though she intended to suck the life out of him through her sheer dramatized over-sexuality.
She raised one fist. BAM.
The boy dropped to the floor of the guard post, unconscious.
Seth laughed uproariously. “BWAHAHAHAHAH WELL PLAYED AHAHAHAHAHA!” He slowly wiped a tear from his eyes. “That… that was beautiful.” He doubled over, staggering around the corner, still laughing.
Reno sauntered back over to him. "Glad you enjoyed the show," she said “Because I am never. Doing. That. Again.” She hacked up a mouthful of spit, swiftly ejecting it onto the floor and ridding herself of the pubescent-guard germs.
“Awwww,” said Seth teasingly. He walked over to the elevator just down the hall. “So uh Reno. You looked uh pretty good there. If you catch my drift.”
Reno looked at Seth as though she wished there were knives present directly in front of her eyes so that she could stare them into him.
((82 — Poison Prison))
Seth shrugged and sighed sarcastically. “Was worth a shot.” He hit the button, and the elevator’s doors slid open.
She followed him in, and unconsciously tightened her legs. “Three years ago was a one-time thing, Seth. We were kids experimenting. Nothing more.”
He raised an eyebrow at her suddenly more serious tone.
“B’sides,” she continued, looking away. “You’ve got Spider now.”
He leaned against the wall, eyes aimed at the ceiling. “Yeah. Guess I do.” The air in the elevator suddenly felt a thousand times more awkward and full of tension.
Then the doors opened onto the lower floor. The guard in the post in this window, a middle-aged man, jumped to his feet. "Hey! What are you doing down here?"
Seth pushed off the wall and took a step towards him. “Here to visit an old friend.”
The guard pulled a large standard-issue gun out from behind the desk and pointed it at the two. Clearly he was neither as inexperienced nor as incompetent as his companion upstairs.
“Whoa!” said Seth, throwing his hands up. “What’s with the hostility, bro?”
"Civilians are not allowed down in solitary confinement! Even with visitor authorization." His voice was gruff and to the point. "Which, given your lack of escort, I sincerely doubt you have."
Crap, thought Reno, I guess THIS is what the old saying goes about not bringing a knife to a gun fight.
Seth’s tone took on a severity rarely seen. “Do you even know who I am!? How DARE you call me a civilian. Rent-a-cops these days. The nerve.” Next to him, Reno put away her surprise at once, playing along and assuming a psuedo-stance-of-importance.
The man blinked, suddenly unsure. "Um. Oh jeez, you're not one of the Quinn's crew, are you?"
Seth practically exploded at him. “What the fuck do you think, dullard? In case you didn’t notice, there is an ARMY OF DEMONS COMING HERE. Now, if you don’t want any more bullshit on your hands, like the riot going on outside, you let me the fuck in. I’m here to get a man who can help clean up this mess so that the Sector can survive.” He paused for breath. “Dig?”
The man behind the counter swallowed. "Of course, sir. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I understand. I won't get in your way."
“Thank you.” Seth let out a long breath, and walked right up to the counter. “Now, would you kindly direct me to Cyclops’ cell?”
"Cyc--! If... I..." The man's brow furrowed, and he let out a sigh. "Down the hall. The door lock code is 8697." He pointed to the right.
Seth nodded, and walked to the right. He waved to Reno. “Come along, now.” They counted off as they walked--door thirteen, fourteen, fifteen... Down here, the walls were pure crystal, unadorned with anything besides the metal doors and the dim bulbs overhead.
At long last, they reached the door to Cyclops' cell. A simple steel door, with "17" stenciled in white paint on it, and a small electronic keypad set where a lock would normally be
“Let’s see… eight six nine seven.” Seth spoke the numbers as he keyed them in.
The door let out a hiss, mechanisms moving in it as it unlocked, then swung open towards them.