Lieutenant Collins spread the blueprints out on the table. He and the young Citadel operative both bent over to examine them.
“We’ve got entrances here, here and here.” he said, running his finger along the papers as he spoke. “The glass in the front is long gone and the motors in the freight doors were removed when the building was abandoned five years ago.”
“I’m already there.” Hector told him. “The freight doors are blocked by a pile of… looks like building supplies. The side door should be easy enough to cover but yeah, the front is wide open.”
“How are you doing on clearing out any civilians in the area?” Collins asked.
“Keeping out of sight is slowing me down but I think I’ve got everyone. There weren’t many in the first place.” Hector told him. “You’re sure these are actually the right guys and not just a bunch of squatters?”
The officer gave a shrug. “Yeah, we’ve got someone in vice that can literally smell lies. We had him sit in while we were questioning that guy you brought in earlier this week on a stab and grab. The little- the guy couldn’t stop babbling. Apparently, he decided you were a Lord and he was terrified that he’d pissed you off by hurting someone that was ‘yours.'”
Hector stepped out of the police department, arm in arm with Liz. He’d felt a little guilty about saying yes when she’d asked him out the first time. It wasn’t wrong, not exactly, but it smacked of… taking advantage? Still, this was their third date. Liz was strong. She’d bounced back from the attack with impressive speed and she didn’t show any sign of the hero worship he’d feared.
Three vans and two squad cars pulled up to the long abandoned factory. Half a dozen police officers, wearing light body armor, stepped out and took cover. They had pistols out but were careful to keep the vehicles between them and the building, not seeming to care about keeping it in sight. That wasn’t their responsibility here. They were just supposed to take the survivors into custody. The real work? That was what the operative was for.
A double line of Hectors poured from the rear of each van.
“Fuck, now?” Hector swore. He wasn’t crazy. It didn’t count as talking to yourself when you had separate bodies and there were twenty five of him present at the Circle. Most of him were standing in a loose… circle, around the Circle. Ugh, just thinking that hurt him a little. There was a man approaching.
“I have come to challenge for Lordship of this city. When night falls, Phoenix will belong to Lord Taker.” he announced in a booming voice. The man wasn’t wearing the ragged outfit typical of Battlegrounders or plate armor, not quite. It was more like, like a combination of the two. Scraps of metal, clearly gathered from different sources, were joined together to make an improvised set of heavy armor. The effect was surprisingly intimidating.
The Arizona Analysis center was quiet, it always was. Not the quiet of an empty room, it was akin to an air traffic control room or a well run ER, the quiet of a large number of people working with total focus. The room held a series of desks, each with a small cluster of computer monitors and communication equipment. Some were messy, strewn with papers and reference material, some were neatly organize.
Hector sat at three of them. One Hector touched a button on his communicator and spoke, slowly and clearly. “Operative Grim, please proceed to the Circle. Lord Taker has arrived and Operative Hive is unlikely to be able to defeat him. Be advised that, as he is the second member of the group known as the Four, it is likely that Lords Starve and Viral are also present in the city. Operative Grave is being notified as well. I will provide further details on his known capabilities once you are in the air.”
Harry’s new cook put the finishing touches on the steak and slid it into a to-go container, along with a baked potato. He slid the finished package out of the kitchen where it picked up by Harry’s new food runner, placed into a bag and then carried to the proper table.
“Sorry sir.” he told the customer.
“What’s this?” Rob asked. “It was supposed to be dine in.” He had a sinking feeling he knew the answer. Enough adrenalin was already flooding his system to push back the weariness, that delightful sensation of oncoming sleep that he’d been looking forward to all week.
“Something’s wrong.” Officer Goldman said, crouching behind his car.
After realizing that the man couldn’t see his raised eyebrow through the visor on his Citadel issue combat helmet, Hector asked “What’s that?”
“There’s supposed to be something like a couple dozen guys in there, right?” Hector nodded. “Well, doesn’t that place look a little big for that? Gotta be room in there for a couple hundred, easy.”
“I’m going in now.” Hector announced. The officers hadn’t actually needed to be told. He’d used a breaching charge to get in the side entrance and, combined with the noise he made ripping down the light plywood covering the front entrances, it was far too loud to be missed. Then he turned back to Goldman. “The informant seemed honest enough but no, I’m not counting on his intel being good.”
No one answered him. They were too busy wincing as he, and every other Hector present made a simultaneous announcement at the top of their lungs.
“THIS IS CITADEL OPERATIVE HECTOR HIVE! DROP TO THE FLOOR AND DO NOT RESIST! FOR ASSOCIATING WITH THE EMPOWERED CRIMINAL KNOWN AS LORD REAPER AND ATTEMPTING TO OVERTHROW THE LAWFUL GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES, SPECIFICALLY THE CITY OF PHOENIX, ARIZONA, YOU ARE UNDER ARREST! LAY DOWN! DO NOT RESIST AND YOU WILL NOT BE HARMED!”
The brief silence that followed his demand was shattered by massed gunfire.