“The whole city?” Mass asked. “That’s a bit bigger than we were going for.”
Originally, I’d been planning on coming here and using the new weapon Malcolm had built for me to take down this entire group of miscreants in one fail swoop. However, I’d come to realize that the only way to make this city great again was to take it over.
And the Troupe Experience were going to help me do just that.
“Don’t worry your little heads about that. I’ve already got a plan.”
It may have just been one I’d thought of on the way here, but it was fool proof. I’d had to make sure it was, given my already existing knowledge of Mass and Juggler’s lack of intelligence. Elphaba seemed pretty rational, though I was yet to get a real gauge on Exposure.
“Ah, fair maiden, we can proceed with that chatter later,” Exposure said enthusiastically with an obviously fake, over the top British accent as he stood up straight. “For now, we shall show thee our true base, where we can drink ale and dine on mutton!”
Oh sweet mother of God, I thought to myself as I face palmed.
“Elphaba, explain,” I said with great annoyance.
“What? Exposure?” she asked as if nothing was weird. “Yeah he’s just role playing right now. He gets pretty committed to his bits so he probably won’t stop for awhile.”
“I do not understand what thee is talking about my wise queen, but I am honored that thee speak’th my name.”
“Yeah, this isn’t gonna get annoying at all,” I said. “He mentioned a true base. Think you can send him off while you two show me around?”
“Eh, sure,” Mass said. “We know he can take some getting used to, but I’m sure he’ll grow on you. For now though…” He turned away from me to Exposure. “Sir Casey, would thou’th go forth and purchase coffee for us all?”
“I shall’th!” He shouted, raising his arm up high. “Enjoy thee tour, fair flower.”
With that, Exposure ran out of the pawn shop.
He slammed the door on his way out, seemingly waking Sammy up.
Rubbing his eyes, he sat up on the stool he was sitting on.
“Damn it guys. I thought I told you not to wake me.” Noticing me, he gave me a hard stare. “What’s she doing here?”
“She’s here to take charge,” Elphaba said. “Leading a city wide take over is gonna take a lot of work, someone has to do it, and it certainly won’t be me.”
“This isn’t gonna be a problem, is it?” I asked with a rye smile on my face.
Not taking his eyes off me, Sammy walked right up to me.
“Why should we trust you?” he asked.
Sammy was definitely looking a lot better than the last time I saw him. With a simple red t-shirt and jeans, his clothes weren’t disgusting to look at. More importantly though, he’d changed his hair so that it wasn’t completely appalling. He’d had it cut so that it was now a short, fade hair style with 360 waves. Honestly, he was looking rather handsome.
“Easy,” I said. “Because my bodyguard is one of the most skilled killers in the world and she would happily take you all out if I asked her to.”
“No, no. You’re not a killer. You wouldn’t tell her to do that.”
“Correction: I wasn’t a killer. Things have changed.”
“Really?” he asked rhetorically. “What?”
I didn’t need to fully explain my entire thought process. He didn’t need to know about anything that had happened to me in the last day or two or my conversation with Olivia. All he needed to hear was one word.
A few feet away, Mass nudged Elphaba with his elbow.
“Hey Hope, this is getting pretty good. Do we have any popcorn?”
We both ignored him.
“What do you mean, me?” Sammy asked.
“What you said when you came to recruit me. In the world we live in, killing for the greater good…it makes sense.”
“Right,” he said, clearly not fully believing me. “Anything else you’d like to say regarding our last conversation?”
I knew full well what he was referring to. He’d touched a nerve, and in response I’d gone into total bitch mode and treated him like dirt.
“You may not believe it, but I really am sorry about the things I said.”
“Whatever,” he said walking back towards his friends, going through a door to another room.
It really shouldn’t have been bothering me, but it was rather upsetting that he was still mad at me. If I was going to lead this team to greatness, I would have to change this relationship.
“Eh don’t worry about him,” Mass said. “He’s probably just pissed you interrupted his nap.”
“I’m sure,” I said, responding to the idiot.
“Any who, I don’t think we’ve been formally introduced,” Mass said, reaching out his hand. “I’m Harrison.”
“Raina Davenport,” I said, shaking his hand.
God, I wasn’t expecting much from these people but his hand felt even grimier than it looked. I had hand sanitizer in my bag, and I would use it the next chance I had. After all, who knows what kinds of diseases I could get from making contact with people as poor as them?
“And this is our, I guess now former leader, Hope,” Mass said.
“Enough pleasantries,” Hope said sternly. “Lets head down to the base. We’ll show you around and you can tell us your plan.”
Hope, just like the last time I saw her, was dressed in all black, this time, the entirety of her attire being made of leather. It didn’t look bad on her, in fact combined with her black lipstick and eyeliner, she was almost making goth look good, but she just wasn’t very pretty. Not to mention her face could really use some botox.
“Fine by me,” I said calmly. Hope and Harrison led the way to the back of the store, with me following them. There were two doors and the three of us went through the one that Sammy had not gone through.
To my surprise, behind the door was a large staircase.
“What the Hell? I asked.
“Pretty sweet, right?” Harrison asked. “The shop is just a front while we really work out of our sick headquarters downstairs.”
I nodded and we all made our way down the stairs.
There wasn’t much I was expecting from their base, though if their boss was as well of as they’d made him out to be, it would most likely be nicer than most places in the Negative District. Accomplishing that wouldn’t have been much of a feat, but even so, my jaw dropped when we reached their headquarters.
It was a fucking gaming lounge.
The room looked to be around 100 square feet. There were multiple large TV’s spread across the orange walls, with different consoles hooked up to each one. Four laptops were placed along a wide table, no doubt being used for trivial purposes. A mini fridge was in the corner, an enormous bowl of candy placed on top of it, old, foul smelling pizza boxes were spread all over the place, and the floors were covered in other assorted garbage. The only thing present which seemed appropriate for the base of a crime family was a map of Bluejay City on the wall next to a white board.
As I hastily applied hand sanitizer, Harrison asked, “So what do you think? Pretty cool, right?”
Taking over the city was never going to be easy, but given how strong the four of them were, I’d expected some level of professionalism.
“Tell me,” I said. “Have you guys actually done anything aside from randomly attack civilians?” I asked skeptically.
“Not…really.” Harrison said in a stilted way.
We both stared at Hope.
She put up her hands and said, “Look, I don’t really care about any of this. I’m just here to make sure my brother and my friends don’t get themselves killed.”
Okay, updated summary of this team: An idiot, a delusional role player, a seemingly intelligent and incredibly powerful woman who unfortunately happened to be completely indifferent, and a guy who, admittedly rightfully, hates me.
Maybe this wasn’t the best idea after all.
“Alright, well, this place is an unorganized pigsty, and the first order of business has to be to clean it up.”
“What?!” Harrison asked as if I’d just asked him to go fight Perses. “But we’ve finally got this place just the way we like it.”
“Really? You like having this place smell like week old pizza?”
Walking around the room, Harrison said, “I know it’s nothing fancy, but trust me, the smell really feels good while you do cocaine.”
As if a response to what he said, Hope took out a vial, put it up to her nose as snorted.
She moaned with pleasure.
“You do coke?” Harrison asked.
“I did some when I was younger,” I answered.
“Younger?” Harrison laughed. “Aren’t you like, 12?”
“14,” I said, really getting tired of people getting my age wrong.
Hope wiped her face, put her vial away, and started picking up papers and soda cans which littered the floor. She crumpled the papers, crushed the cans, and threw them in a trash can.
“What are you doing?” Harrison asked.
“Cleaning,” she answered. “You guys wanted someone to make us productive, and I figure it’d be a good idea to listen to her.”
“Fine,” he said, joining Hope in the cleaning process.”
Now would probably be a good time to ask about their boss. They may not have known much about him, but I could still find out all that they do know. After all, there was still the all too real possibility that this was all just one big game of Smog’s.
I suppose that if Smog was in charge, that could actually work out in my favor. Perhaps I could come to sort of deal with him, get him stop killing people, and find out just what he wanted. It was unlikely, but if he really was behind this, I had to try. It wasn’t like we had anyway to take him in a fight head on.
“Hey, this was your idea,” Harrison said, tossing out a pizza box. “Aren’t you gonna help?”
“Please,” I said, brushing off my blouse. “Davenports don’t clean.”
“Damn rich people,” he mumbled, not likely meaning for me to hear him.
“So,” I said, sitting down in a leather recliner. “What do you two know about our boss?”
“Not much,” Hope said, turning her attention to me. “All we know is that he’s loaded, speaks with a voice modulator, sees “great potential” in us, wants control of the Negative District, and thought it’d be a great idea to make you our leader.”
“Wait, this was his idea?” I asked, taken aback.
“Yeah,” Harrison answered. “Sammy didn’t mention that when he went to recruit you?”
“No. He didn’t.”
Why didn’t he just tell me the truth.
Maybe he knew more about the boss than these two. Perhaps he had some sort of connection to him.
“Hey, where did that door Sammy went through before lead to?” I asked.
“The storeroom,” Hope said
“Come to think of it, go grab him. If we have to clean, so does he.”
I nodded and headed upstairs. The two of us needed to talk, and I was going to get some answers. I still hadn’t explained my plan to the others which was probably for the best. Until I was sure what was going on, it was best for me to keep my mouth shut.
Re entering the pawn shop, I was struck in the back of the head and knocked to the wooden floor.
Sammy stood over me, his anti-Demigod juggling pins in hand.
“We need to talk.”