Up the Ladder (Currently on Hiatus)

The year is 2310, the world long ago has been devastated by nuclear war. It took over a century for humanity to recover from the ruble and built cities known as the Havens. Clean water, rich soil, and clear skies. Only few could afford to live in that kind of valuable luxuries. The rest live in districts outside and underneath these Havens. This is the story of Rinsky, a mercenary who for his entire life has been working for anyone who will pay him money. His one and only desire is to live in the havens; not caring for anyone who stands in the way. Though he learns that his reward will be short lived; as he has made many enemies along his path to paradise.

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4. Underground Bars and Lasers

                     I darted down the hallway, shooting the next window to prepare for my next jump. Not thinking about what could be around the corner but prepared for anything thrown at me. Work was like this all the time. My mind will start to forget everything else except my priorities. Think of it as being "in the zone" only nothing else matters.

                    The denizens of these apartments didn't either didn't take kindly to gang violence or wanted to join in on it. Halfway down the hallway I felt something collide with my back as if I was punched. It made me lose by balance and fell to the ground skidding at least a meter. "Was I shot?" I questioned as felted my back realizing I had a armored vest under my clothing. I heard talking coming from the front and back. "Did you get him?" "Yeah I think. Check him." "Shit man I don't think that was enough." I could hear a women's voice too. "Babe did you kill him?" "Shut up bitch! We're getting to that!" I could see a flashlight on me as I tried to stay as still as I can; not even breathing. Footsteps were getting closer and ever slowly closer. "Looks dead to me." one of them remarked. "Then check his body see what he's got."

                    I can see the boots the man ordered to loot me. I saw as he knelt down near me feeling his hand starting to look through my back pockets and pouches. "This guy's got explosives!" Some of the other people seemed alarm. "Are they live!" shouted the woman I heard called a bitch. "They're explosive arrows; they won't go until the heads are triggered." I felt the quiver removed from me as my body was flipped other. It was becoming too hard to play dead. "Stay cool. not now. Soon." "See they go off when they hit something" "Fine we'll keep them. We could probably make some good money off these."

                    Flipped over I had a better look at my situation. My night vision was still on, but the green eyes could give me away if I'm not careful. Sneaking a look I could see four of them: three male one female. They didn't wear any armor and had small arms, with the exception of the fourth one who then came from behind with a high 10 gauge shotgun. There was of course the guy who was searching me talking to their ringleader wielding a 8 inch magnum, and of course his possible lover behind him. "Search him some more this guy must be loaded." order the thug "Also check him for enhancements; we can scrap 'em."

                   He turned back around at me with his flashlight. "I have no choice now." As he reached into my coat I seized him by the neck pushing him off me as I rose. Pushed him into the man with the shotgun attracting the attention of the other two. "What the Shit!" Their lights shined on me and opened fired. I was able to get out the way and not get shot. I whipped the pistol out quickly fired a round from its chamber. Not remembering the power of this gun I nearly fell back from the force the recoil. "Shit. I for a second I forgotten how powerful it was."

                  Screams of pain spouted from the leader's mouth. The two that I shoved into the wall recovered themselves enraged and out for blood. The one searching me lunged out tackling me to the ground knocking my gun from my hand. We tossed about on the floor exchanging punches, cussing each other, and trying to strangle each other. "Don't just stand there you cunts!" bellowed the leader apparently still alive "Shoot him!" "We don't have a clear shot." "SHOOT HIM!"

                    A zapping sound rang through my ears along with a red flash of light impacting my assailant. The flash blinded me for a second but once I could see again I saw what was left of my attacker's head. The entire top of his cranium was taken off as if it bursted. "Da fuck?" One of them said as their fire was directed at this new gunman. I turned my head to see this new threat seeing the flashes of gunfire and sparks.

                  It appeared to be one of the more armored members of the Syndicate. His armor covered nearly all of his body with a thick chest plate on his torso up to his shoulders that still allowed free movement. He had shinguards and gauntlets to protect his limbs from even 12 gauge slugs. Topping it off was the helmet that all Syndicate members were known to wear. It was stout with a thick shaded line as visor; this one also had a breathalyzer for going in hazardous areas.

                 Bullets impacted the Syndicate's armor making him stumble, but he stood he ground as he was able fired two more shots from the phaser pistol he held. Phaser rounds are rare and very deadly. They release large amounts of energy in a beam. Results from tests show that even  1.99 cubic inch rounds can make perfect holes through 10 feet of solid concrete. The two beams went through the shotgun man and woman with no resistance; going through the walls of the buildings in the process.

                 While he he recovered from taking a barrage of bullets I rushed at him with my own pistol and attempted to knock the phaser from his hand. He took quick notice of my action's not forgetting to kill me. He aimed the lethal gun at me, but I seized that hand and struggled to keep it pointed at me. Unfortunately I wasn't quick enough the grab his other hand and his metal fist slammed into my face; breaking my nose. "Damnit that's the third time this year." I took my other hand to block another punch.

                My strength started to wane on this guy. Soon he wasn't starting to force me down on my knees. I desperately tried to keep the gun's barrel away from me. At least I was doing something right. I wasn't enough I couldn't hold him off forever. I could hear the soft chuckles under his thick helmet. "Quick! Think! What do I do?" The phaser pistol he had was all I needed to take from him. Without it I might have a chance.

               I release his left hand and shifted over to grab his right arm using my own arms to wrap around it. Twisting his arm around he released his grip from the gun yelling in pain. Twisting it even further I force it around his back immobilizing him to the ground. Finally I pulled my pistol again and shot the exposed neck not covered by armor.

                It was done. I hit the back of his neck severing the spinal cord and making a hole through his windpipe. He lay there twitching coughing up blood and gasping for air through his helmet. Wiping the blood from my broken nose trying to painfully move it back in place, I heard someone clapping behind down the hallway.

                "Well done Mr. Gallo. C'mon we need you in the hideout." called out a man speaking in French; a language I did in fact understand. "Where you there the whole time?" I asked with a hint of annoyance. "I got up here by the time you shot him so don't put that 'you could have helped me' bullshit." he lit up a new cigarette and lit it up. "Besides I heard you have super hearing. Did you not hear me coming up the stairs?" "A lot of people in the building were panicking over the gunfire. It was hard to make out."

                "The hell are you fuckers say'n?" spat a gurgled voice on the ground. You're gonna fucking pay for killing my guys." The leader of those punks was still alive, just barely. Apparently the Syndicate soldier didn't even bother with him. "Friend of yours?" The frenchman asked "Nope." I raise my pistol and brought end the bastard's annoying life.

                   

                 I reached over to pick the rifle I dropped as well as the Syndicate's phaser pistol. It would be hard to sneak it through cops, but a free weapon is a free weapon; and this was a fine weapon. I looked back to get another look at this new man.

                  He was tall wearing a miner's uniform with some light armor around his torso. on the chest area bore the symbol of Armond's gang. His face had burn scars from dangerous factory working or from a fight. He also wore an old ben hogan hat with holes and scorch marks.

                  "I'm assuming you're with Armond?" I asked wanting to make sure I can trust him; for now. "Yep." he blew a puff of smoke. "You speak French very well." he walked down the stairs of the hallway and gestured me to follow. While we walked down the hallway I was a lot calmer than I was when I fought. Which made me question "How much time passed by when I got carried away in the fight?" "Where did you get the scars?" "Hmm?" he questioned. "Ah these. As you could probably tell I work in the mines when I'm not raiding people in the wastelands. I've had a few burn accidents in both professions." 

                 "What's your name?" Once again I felt obliged to ask I have to work with them after all. "I am Jules Mercier. Most call me Le Batard Brûlée. I am head of operations here in Eden." So he's in charge of the group over here. This is the kind of man I expect to serve under. He was the complete opposite of Armond. He seemed calm, cool, and his voice didn't make me want to tear my ears out.

                 We walked outside the building into the streets we fought on before heading into the buildings. It was lightly raining now you can hear a commotions of panic far away. "Lets go to the hideout quick." He began to run down the street "Both the cops and  the Syndicate will come. Plus I hate rain." Immediately I followed suit down the street until following the small path of destruction from the fight. Vehicles and buildings were abandoned, and bodies were scattered on the street.

                 At a supposed dead end there was a alley way which Jules went into gesturing me to follow. "This way," he called "we're almost there." The alley way was pretty wide for an alleyway, but still too small for a vehicle to fit through. It just kept going winding and curving; sloping downward. My ears began to hear a new noise coming in. The sound of machines, the humming of engines and propellors. "Helicopters." only cops had helicopters. The biggest advantage they had besides nearly all men having enhancements and the finest body armor.

                "I hear them coming." I said running even faster. Something caught my vision on the rooftops. As I heard, it sounded like thuds of running and clinking of metal gear. I saw and heard it again, but this time I saw it in full sight. "Don't worry," Jules reassured me "they're with us I told them to cover me up above."

                A moment later Jules started slowing down as we enter a small clearing. I could see a small flickering neon light over a double door. It was green with the words "POTIONE EST" flickering trying to stay on. The building itself appeared rundown and abandon all for the faint neon sign outside. "Hold on." Jules stopped me from entering "We must wait for them." we pointed and waved a small flash light at the two building tops facing the hideout. The two shadowy men I saw earlier waved flashlights back and looked like they were heading down the fire escapes on the buildings.

              Waiting or the moment for them to come seemed to take forever the only sounds I could hear were the raindrops and commotion outside the area. The rotating blade copters were getting closer; pretty soon I didn't need to use my enhancements to hear them. Both me and Jules started to see the aerial machines and their spotlights.

              "Here boss." one of the men reported after making it down. The other followed suit saying the same. "Good," Jules turned to me with a grin biting on his cigarette "now we go in."

 

              Jules opened the doors revealing an empty piece of crap of a room. "This 'hideout' better be impressive." we all walked in letting them go ahead of me. Jules and his men walked across the dusty, garbage filled, tiled floor over to an area over near the wall. 

               "Espere!" Everyone aimed their guns startled ready to shoot whoever was behind us. "Espere! No dispares!" called Rodrigo carrying Fernandez desperately trying to run as fast as he can Down the narrow alley. "Hey," Jules said to him "where the flying fuck were you?" We all put our guns down except me. They probably didn't realize that the helicopters were practically on top of us.

               I was able to hear a bit of them speaking, and from what I heard they knew where we were. "Guys they're here," I said "the cops, they're practically on top us." "Well we better head inside then." Jules picked off one of the tiles to reveal a handle. He yanked it and revealed a door under the tiles leading to a one man stairway.

               Rodrigo was still trying to make it down the alley aware of the copters overhead. I search light shined and stayed on him making him panic and calling for help. One of the men with Jules was about to go over them, but I stopped him. "I was paid to make sure you guys don't all get killed." I told him "Don't waste your life while you have the chance to live."

              I heard the heard the humming of the guns rotate on the heli; charging up about to rain bullets down below. A second later the last thing anyone would hear inn Rodrigo's situation sounded. Mini-gun bullets fired in a line and then concentrated on Rodrigo. At first he wailed it immense pain, but it was immediately cut off as the bullets tore through both Rodrigo and Fernandez; limbs were blown off body and body parts became bloody slop. If we were to recover the bodies we wouldn't recognize them. It all happened in less than a minute before the gunner of the copter stopped and turned his fire on the building.

               "Well," Jules spat at us "You can mourn later. Get in." Of course Jules and I went in but the other two hesitated; still letting the death of two of their partners brutally die without anyone to help them. They still went in and closed the secret door behind us. Everyone pulled a flashlight out except me though. I can thank night vision for that for in was pitch dark in this stairway.

                "Sir," One man began to ask "should we seal off the entrance?" "Seal off?" I thought "What could they..." The answer quickly came to me as he pulled out C4 explosives. "Yes," Jules commanded "Set a charge every two minutes, as we go down, until you run out." and they did as he said. Every now and again the stop to set another charge on the spiraling stairway.

                It kept going on and on; spiraling down and down. To me it seems this place was too deep. By then we should have hit a part of the underground area. "How far does this place go?" fortunately my question was answered when we were met by a door.

               "Alright," Jules said "this is it Mr. Rinsky." He opened the door to be greeted by several mercs. They were all ragged with some armor. Some of them were wounded likely from the fighting that has been going on. The room of course was lighter than it was in the blank hallways and streets. Naturally I turned my eyes back to my regular sight.

               "Glad you made it back Jules." one said to him. Another one with his arm in a sling asked "Where's the backup Armond sent?" I stepped forward and raised my hand. "I'm the backup." "Is there anymore?" Some other guy asked "Non," Jules pulled another fag from a carton and lit it. "We'll just have to make do. In the meantime," he turned his attention at me again "Enjoy a drink while you can."

 

               The hideout didn't look too bad. It was bigger than I thought an underground lair would be. There was enough light so it didn't look to dreary, and it was fairly furnished. Leather chairs, wood tables, and bar stools. Speaking of bars, the hideout had it's own bar in the room we walked into. "I deserve it." I thought with a sense of smug pride.

               I somewhat eagerly approached the bar until I was stopped by Jules. "Oh, by the way," he began to ask me "keep your super hearing or whatever it is on." "Why?" I questioned. "Those charges we set at the stairway is one of two ways we enter through to here. Those haven dogs are likely to enter through their soon." he took his cigarette out to let out a puff of smoke in the air. "If you hear anything coming down, tell me."

               He walked away into another room that had no door. "Right now I have to think of our next move." Finally I was able to get to the bar. The shelves containing various liquors had a glow from dim lights behind the counter. The bartender of this hideout was one of the men who gathered around earlier. He was stout and pale a well trimmed mustache. He bore a usual bartender's suit of a collared shirt and vest. Instead of a usual vest he instead had and armored vest of a common mercenary.

              "Bonjuor Mister so called backup." he groaned at me. "You have a problem with me?" I retorted. "That jackass Armond screwed us over again." he spat with distaste saying Armond's name. "Ever since he gained power in the gang he has become painstakingly incompetent." This man seemed to hate Armond as much if not more as I do. However the guy still gave me a glass of scotch which I took. "How stupid and hung over were you to work for the shit head?"

             I finished gulping down my brew before giving an answer. "I hate the guy too, but his pay can sustain me." the bartender took my glass an filled it up again. "How did a man like him become leader anyway?" He let out a sigh as another gang member came up to drink. "He took advantage of a bad situation." "How?" The man joined in on our conversation to try and provide an answer. "What I heard there was this one boss before him ya know, and he was not too good. Armond then stabbed him and took his place."

             "He used to be a scrub like us," the bartender expanded upon "but he is an even bigger liar and backstabber than Francesco. he may have expanded operations in other cities, but he is an idiot, cannot fight for merde, and constantly dents us to do his dirty work." After hearing more about Armond he made me hate him even more. Not necessarily for his abuse of power, but because the amount of idiocy in abusing it.

              We sat there talking more about or ties with Armond. The bartender has a subordinate of him when this Francesco was in charge and got screwed over by him on one job when he was ditched in the wastelands and had to walk over to the city. "Fucking slime crap." The only reason he and others stuck around is because his officers, like Jules, were more capable.

             "Looks like it's down here." I heard "Check it out." It wasn't coming from this room which only meant we've been found. "Jules!" I called with my speech a bit slurred from being momentarily wasted "They here?" he shouted back "Yeah."

             For a second nothing happened until the room rumbled and dirt and gravel poured from the stairway. To me though I could hear the explosion as if it was right next to me. I heard the muffled screams being drowned by dirt and rock. Then it became almost quiet, but muffled screams were still audible to my ears.

             Jules alkyd into the room to assess the damage he caused. After kicking a bit in the dirt he turned to the remaining gang members. "Alright," he said with a sigh "we only have one entrance now. That should be a good thing, cause now we can focus on one way they can get in." The men seemed unsure to this tactic, but continued to listen to his plan. "The syndicate have been on our backs since the past couple of days. There appears to be less now, but these people are better prepared."

              He glance towards the ground stomping out the cigarette he had. "Friends, we've pissed off the biggest crime organization in the world. The man we killed, whoever he was, was someone they really wanted. The few men they are sending must mean they are starting to let up." The men's doubt started to wipe away listening to Jules' speech

              "We can get through this." shaking his fist to put emphasis in his words "Survive this night and we will be the guild that took on the Syndicate. The Syndicate! Armond is a jackass; I cannot deny that, but I am confident the man he sent us," he was addressing me causing heads to turn in my direction "Is ten men put into one."

              He pulled a flame thrower from his back and started it up. He pulled another cigarette out and lit it with the blue flicker of the flame. "Now," he put on a sadistic smile that made the other men perk up completely "let's go and kick some booku Syndicate ass!"

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