The Orphaned (Chapter One)

*As previously stated Fridays would be reserved for some type of writing. I don’t yet have a new part for The Witch’s Memory as of yet, so I decided to share part of one of many open manuscripts at the moment. Today that would be The Orphaned, perhaps my redheaded stepchild as far as stories go as it’s been open for quite some time. Oh well. One day it will be finished. Until then enjoy!*

****************************************
He was dressed to the nines as he pressed the button in the elevator to rise to the fourteenth floor of the high-rise condominium. The luxurious box of mahogany wood and gold plating shuddered to life, climbing upward. The man was handsome with eyes a piercing gun-metal gray and hair like fresh honeycomb. His lean yet square chest was covered by a refined black Italian suit. Gold cufflinks of dueling dragons pulled the suit together, playing at the edges of his wrists. His face however was still as granite. If he were to don a slight grin on that stern, fierce face he could melt any woman’s heart as he undoubtedly had many times before.
At his side, watching him work out the minor imperfections in his suit was a girl. She was tall, but her wide doe eyes and smooth, snowy skin betrayed her age. Thirteen…twelve possibly. She was lanky with knobby knees and bony arms. One look at her an anyone would assume she had missed a few meals in her lifetime. Her rail thin frame was exposed under a minimal schoolgirl outfit. A plaid skirt barely met her thighs and a too short white top exposed her narrow and tone belly. Long raven hair draped over her forehead, curtaining her soft emerald eyes. Through those full, luscious strands she studied the man closely.
He only fidgeted with his clothes when he was nervous. It wasn’t a normal feeling he displayed so it was easy to pick up on. When he was nervous that feeling always managed to slink onto her. The girl brushed some of the hair behind her ear, then rapped her fingers against the handle of the violin case she carried.
His steely eyes concentrated on the tap- tap- tapping fingers while he adjusted the garnet tie. “Don’t worry Susana. It’s nothing we haven’t gone through in training.”
Her voice was soft and meek. “I know.”
“Nice and easy.”
“Yes.”
“But no mistakes.”
“No mistakes.”
The man nudged her playfully causing her to raise her green eyes to his. He was smiling, a bright and beautiful smile that took the edge off of her nervousness. His gaze fixed properly on her making her cheeks flush with heat.
“Everything is going to be alright kiddo. You’ll see.”
A brief, glancing smile graced Susana’s face. She stopped tapping the handle, but her heart kept the beat going against her ribs. The elevator hissed as it came to a stop. They were greeted by gorgeous paintings and the air of posh living as the doors slid open. A cerulean runner led the way to an exquisite door over the impeccable marble floor. Seeing the door made the buzzing swarm of locust back to life in her belly.
Despite wave after wave of paranoia eroding the shores of her confidence, Susana walked alongside the man. Their hollow footsteps echoed against the walls. Her eyes scoured the marble floor studying the patterns within the tiles. Diamond, square, diamond, square, bold lettering which read Lumenta, diamond, square…. There were exactly twenty four of these repeating patterns until they reached the door. The man knocked strongly before waiting for a response.
He nudged her again, forcing her to look into those wondrous eyes yet again. “Buck up kiddo. Just remember you’re training. You got this.”
“Okay daddy.”
His brow furrowed.  Age shown through in the lines around the creases of his eyes. “I told you never to call me that.”
Susana turned her attention back to the blue runner counting the threads in the fabric. One, two, three, four….
She continued to count the deep threads as the door creaked open. A man stood in the doorway. This man did not fit the profile of the normal resident of the Lumenta Condominiums. He was medium height with eyes rimmed with red. His dark hair was thin and greasy, his skin pockmarked. A crudely drawn eagle was scrawled on his sweaty chest. Dangling from his mouth, a tightly wound roach spewed pungent wisps smoke.
“What the hell do you want?” The man growled the words through clenched teeth.
With a smile the man with the gun metal eyes said, “Why I do believe my services were asked for…and by services I mean my girl.”
Those ruddy eyes fixed on Susana, looking her up and down. A huff escaped him in a smoke filled breath. His lips curled into a ludicrous grin. “Well well well. I almost didn’t see the little mouse.”
“Let me assure you despite her size she is more the able to handle the one who ordered her. Speaking of that, where is he? I know it’s not you.”
Slowly Susana lifted her eyes to the man in the doorway. Her eyes met his. Immediately she had an idea of his background, his history. Just under the tattoo there were faint lines from scars where his drunk of a father beat him mercilessly as a child. Even without the smoke in his mouth she would’ve known he was a smoker from the bluish tint in his lips. It said he started at ten perhaps, gradually increasing to a two pack a day smoker by nineteen. By the midtwenties he was using heroin. During this whole time he had been in and out of prisons and rehab, he’d spent time homeless. Finally here he was, an underling for someone much more powerful than he was or would ever be. A position liable to get him killed.
“And who are you to say that about me?” said the man as if stung. “How do you know I’m not swimming in cash?”
“My fellow I wouldn’t be good at my job if I couldn’t sense money standing right in front of me.”
“She’s cute.”
“I know.”
The man with the eagle tattoo tapped lightly at the case in Susana’s hands. She tore her eyes from his and focused on steadying the case. Once stable she tap-tap-tapped the handle. The greasy man looked back to the man with the gun metal eyes. “What the hell is that?”
“Tools of the trade my friend. Now if you can just get–”
“I’ll  sample the merchandise.”
The handsome man placed a protective hand in front of Susana. He glared at the foul man.
“I don’t think so pal. Why don’t you get your boss so HE can get what he paid for?”
The tattooed man laughed. “I don’t like you.”
“You don’t have to.”
“Nah. I really don’t like you.”
“Good for you for having feelings. Your preschool teacher must be proud. I only let my girls work with the actual client. That’s how I keep a fresh product and stay in business.”
“You bring this girl and none for the rest of us?”
“I was paid for one girl. If you and however many sleazeballs want to pony up your earnings for a couple years maybe you can get…a catalogue of my girls. Until then I don’t need to speak to you or entertain you. So run dog, run. Go fetch your master.”
The tattooed man bit down on the cigarette before spitting it to the ground. Ash and tobacco marred the pristine runner. He strode up to the man with gun metal eyes, glaring up at him as he only reached the man’s chest. Susana glanced at the brewing altercation; her eyes went back down to her tightening grip on the handle. At the base of her neck she felt the tiniest beads of sweat forming.
She never sweat. Ever. Something was wrong. Her heart raced and her pulse was hectic. Her pupils dilated. The color faded from her hands as they gripped tightly onto the handle. The world around her slowed down. In her ears she clearly heard the heartbeats of the two men. The tattooed man was bringing his pointer and middle finger up to jab the man who said he was not her daddy in the chest.
Logically she knew things were unfolding much quicker, but she was moving faster than the world around her. The feeling was frightening and exhilarating at the same time. The tattooed man’s hand was still rising, barely above his waist now. Her mind was buzzing with emotion until it blacked out. Their well-conceived plan was a distant memory; a gossamer thought as her muscles wound tight.
The man in the suit caught a glimpse of what was about to happen. His gleaming eyes widened in shock and his face twisted in horror. “Su–”
She was so quick. The tattooed man’s hand was now above his waist, pulling back slightly to jab the handsome man. Her thin hand bolted to his fingers, clutching them. In a split moment she yanked back hard, snapping them in two with a sickening crunch and the squelch of bone tearing through the human flesh. There was no time for the man to revel in his agony as she sent her foot into the front of his knee, causing it to explode in a cacophony of mangled bone and cartilage. The tattooed man was nearing passing out from the immediate onset of pain. Susana’s free fist came crashing into the man’s jaw. She felt the man’s jaw shatter against her highly sensitive nerves along with at least nine of his teeth. Now he was unconscious with his eyes wide open as he toppled to the ground.
“—san–”
Her ear picked up the sound of footsteps approaching the still open door. The feet weren’t moving in urgency. They obviously hadn’t heard the commotion. The element of surprise was on her side.
“—a!!”
The tattooed man crashed to the ground like a felled oak. Blood gushed from his shattered mouth. Susana looked into the eyes of the man in the suit. She read his fear, his fear…of her. It hung in his eyes like ghosts in the windows of his haunted soul. From behind the door the footsteps were picking up speed. There was no denying the audible thud of a grown man hitting the floor.
Her head snapped to the door. Just beyond the door she could see a shadow encroaching on the door, along with the sound of more feet, approximately six individual people in all. Quickly she looked back to the man in the suit. Those eyes told her to stop, however he appeared frozen in place. Her mind only thought of one thing, one powerful word: protect.
Before the man in the suit could react she kicked the door in. The edge of the door caught an assailant on the bridge of the nose, jamming it into back into his skull. His body staggered back enough for Susana to rush in. she charged into the man’s waist, the case dangling in her hand. Crouch walking in step with him as he stumbled back with his hands clutching at the nothingness where his nose had been. From her position she scanned the room, her eyes taking in all the minute details. The room was modern contemporary. Two levels with a loft. The floor was dark mahogany hardwood and the furniture was overpriced and gaudy. Along the walls decorative vases were perched on high ivory pedestals. Five other men came flooding out of doors like roaches seeking solace from the light.
Although she saw them her acute ears were aware of yet another unseen person in this condo.  The unseen heartbeat was steady and Susana was sure she picked up an arrhythmia, the heart was skipping beats. The men that came out were armed to the teeth, but they were still drawing them out. They would learn from their mistakes.
Still moving faster than the river of time, she unlatched the case and pulled the contents out. A shimmering Desert Eagle devoured the light. There were clips, four, which she tossed in the air.
She took out the furthest assailant. One shot in the center of his forehead, rendering it as no more than a geyser of crimson. The kickback on such a powerful of gun should have sent her flailing across the room, but she remained steady with the gun taking aim at its next victim.
In her sight was the one closest to her who had a .45 at chest level. Susana witnessed a slight tremor in this man’s hand. She was well aware that he would be reckless with his shots.  Her hands clutched the waistline of the man she crouched beside as she used him like a shield. The frightened gunman fired an entire clip, nine shots in her direction, five shots hitting the wall and floor while the other four landed in his partner’s back. A fresh clip was in the man’s pocket, she heard it brush against the denim. Before he was able to think of reaching for it, Susana briefly peered around the side of her deceased human shield then proceeded to shoot through his gut. Three shots ripped through her shield’s belly and landed into the shooter. Two shots in the heart one through the throat. As the bullet was boring its way through his throat she chastised herself for being so sloppy. She’d been trained better. But this, this wasn’t about her training. This was…something else, something she hadn’t experienced in the brief flicker of her life.
The two other gunmen were firing now. Wild shots of fear, no real direction. Firing off with no more than a prayer and crossed fingers. Susana turned the body of her human shield once more, knowing she couldn’t hide behind it forever. The body was useless, only good for three or four direct shots.
Her mind knew what she must do. Quickly she peered around the serviceable dead body, sizing up the men and configuring her attack. The fear in their eyes was undeniable.
She released the clip. With one hand she tossed her man shield across the room into the one of the assailants. As the bullet freckled body carved a bloody trail through the air, she snatched up a clip that just hit the floor, and jammed it in. she didn’t have to aim for the farthest gunman as she could hear the sweat beading on his forehead. She heard his pores open only to release the salty globule which coursed down his face.
Her shot was fast, blind but on point. The round tore through the air, into the man’s heart. She should plug him once more in the head to make sure he would not get up. Her head though…her head was fried. All the training was lost to…what was this?
Rage.
Rage.
Susana’s mind wrapped itself around the word. She found herself lost within the four letters, dancing within that one syllable. What was behind those letters? Was there more here?
She was distracted.
A bullet slammed into her shoulder. The shot sent her spinning. Her grip on the gun loosened but she managed to maintain her grip. Her heightened senses intensified the pain. Every cell in her shoulder screamed out in agony. Her muscles still remembered the training. Her mind buffered out enough pain to focus. She lifted the canon like gun and fired at the man. One shot, two, five. She unloaded a full clip into the man. His face was unrecognizable, only the spilled blood would identify him.
There was that other heartbeat, calm and smooth, coming from upstairs. A voice was behind her, but it was distant. ‘Stop.’ Is that what the voice said? No, that couldn’t be it. That must be the pain coming from her bloody shoulder. She still felt the slug embedded deep into her flesh, scraping against the bone as she moved. The pain was blinding, her arm was going numb as she bled out like a slaughtered hog. Still…she had to finish.
Susana dashed up the steps, letting her ears lead the way for her. Thump thump. Thump thump. It was too calm of a sound. Her Desert Eagle was not a subtle firearm. It was loud, violent, and it was quick. When it came out everyone within earshot knew someone was going to die and to stay far away unless you wanted to meet the same fate. Its sound was frightening, the rally cry of death. But this heartbeat was unfazed by it.
She followed the heartbeat until she stood in front of a blue door. One swift kick knocked it off the hinges. The room was full of smoke but she saw a man sitting on the bed. A rancid cigar dangled in his mouth, great plumes of smoke erupting from his dry lips.
The man was in his forties Susana deduced from the rugged face which was starting to wrinkle at the corners of his eyes. Unruly silver hair was atop his head. A tattoo of a Russian word ensnared his neck like a choker. The tattoo read CHOSEN.
He looked at the gun and the girl as though this was an all too familiar scenario. In Susana’s ear she still heard that distant voice tickling her eardrum. What was it saying?  Stop? Kill? Kill. Stop? Kill him. Kill him! She wanted to do what the voice said, but as the man sat there defenseless her trigger finger suddenly felt like lead. She couldn’t bring herself to pull it, leaving no witnesses.
Protect your father.
Protect your father.
The man blew a cloud of smoke in her direction. His muddy brown eyes peering at her through the foul smelling puff. “It’s about time.” His voice was heavily accented.
Susana kept the gun trained on him, ignoring the snakes of pain squirming through her wounded shoulder. The man smiled, revealing blackened teeth that had never seen a toothbrush or dentist. He was searching her with his eyes.
“Let me guess,” he croaked in that thick Russian brogue. “The formula is so diluted now it can’t even ward off memories. So you lost control which resulted in you getting shot. It will take quite a bit of time to repair that arm, if it doesn’t wind up useless.”
She did her best to keep the gun raised. “What formula?”
“Your mind is broken,” he said ignoring her question. “You think you’re supposed to kill me. Which you’re not supposed to. Your people want me alive, no?” He chuckled before inhaling from the cigar again. “I feel insulted that they would send a defect after me. Very insulted.”
“A defect?”
“Perhaps I should destroy you. You are nothing but trash.”
Susana felt numb, not to his words, but actually numb. Her body had lost all feeling. At once it seemed as though she’d been buried alive in her own body. Her mind was active, but she was no more than a statue.
…the smoke.
A paralytic toxin.
The thought came to her but there was nothing she could do about it. She’d fallen into this trap and was in the clutches of this shrewd predator. He rose to his feet, and stood in front of her. His rough hands cradled her face.
“You, my dear, are such a waste of my father’s genius.” Then he grinned proudly flashing his tar coated teeth. The rancid odor of vodka and the cancer eating away at his liver punched her in the face. She wanted to gag but the toxin held her firm. “Such a pretty, pretty waste.”
From behind her she heard the familiar sound of the hammer of a Glock snapping into place. The man with the black teeth looked behind her to the handsome man holding the gun trained on his forehead. That horrid grin widened.
“Romanski?” asked the handsome man in a tone that said he already knew.
The man let go of Susana’s face and raised his hands in the air. There was no hiding the glee in his face. “I surrender.”
“What did you do to her?”
“It’ll wear off.” He shook his raised hands. “I said I surrender.”
The handsome man’s gun metal eyes betrayed the confliction going on within him. On one hand there was his target willingly giving himself up, on the other Susana was frozen and wounded, bleeding profusely. The man looked back and forth between them. This only made the smile Romanski’s face widen.
“Ha! No wonder your dog can’t control herself.” Venom laced every syllable as he spoke. The stench wafting from between the man’s smug grin was unbearable. “Her master cares for her. Truly rich. Americans and their pansy emotions.”
Romanski laughed heartily. He took on the appearance of a dragon with smoke rings pouring out of his nostrils and his eyes alive with pure evil.
The man with the gun metal eyes flicked his eyelids then took a deep breath. One hand went to his ear while stayed on the laughing Romanski. “Base. I need retrieval for my Orphan, and a med team for the target.” He nodded in response then focused on the Soviet.
Tears were in the Russian’s eyes. He wiped at the dampness with a fat, dirty finger. “A med team? Ha! You think I’m mad or something? That I need your mental treatments? You are weak. Weaker than this busted toy. If you were honorable you’d off yourself so the world would be better. Genocide of the weak and weak minded. Ah utopia.”
“It’s for the bullet wounds when you ran.”
“I surrendered to you. I never–”
Five shots boomed out of the gun, swift and precise. Roamnski’s knees were destroyed beyond repair, riddled with the bullets. Blood pooled around the Russian as he collapsed, laughing to the floor.

Until next time, have a writeous day!

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