It didn't take me two seconds to recognize Christian's voice. I turned to him and said, with the hints of a joke lingering in my tone, "Oh, a little of both."
Christian snorted, gesturing with a quick flick of his eyes from one woman to the other, "I've gathered that."
"Look," I said, lowering my tone and the drink in my hand, "We were both asses, alright? But we have to finish this quote for the boss."
"Oh, drop it, Jon!" Sarah shouted. "I know you're here for Project Aegis - whatever it is, exactly - so there's no need to code your speech anymore!"
The question was clear by Christian's posture and facial expression: Who was the loudmouthed redhead announcing things she didn't understand to the outside world? He bristled, shoulders tensing as he straightened to stand at his full height. In avenomous tone that caught everybody off-guard, he hissed, "Little girls that don't understand the aphotic, dangerous men they're referncing would be wise to keep their pretty little mouths shut." Then, Christian turned to me and said, "We should move somewhere more private; your lady friends are putting us all at risk."
In a resigned tone, I responded, "You're right. Let's go," and shot Sarah a look that said You idiot. Keep your mouth shut.
When we got back to the condo, I said to Sarah, "You're right. We're here on a mission that is part of the International Defense Initiative called Project Aegis. We are here to - Christian, did you hear that?"
"Yes," he answered quickly, "I did."
"Hear what?" Sarah and Allison asked the question in unison - obviously, not much had changed since high school.
I silenced them with a "shhh" sound and stood completely still for about ten seconds before Christian shouted, "Get down!"
Two seconds later, we were all against the ground as a volley of bullets crashed through the large bay window of the front room we were in. One of the rounds landed by my head, and I grabbed it, inspecting the bullet. 7.62x39 mm NATO. It was probably a Kalashnikov weapon of some sort.
Soon after the firing ceased we heard footsteps inside the house. Thay were loud heavy - it sounded like the intruder was wearing some kind of heavy boots. When they walked into the room, I lay still, waiting for them to approach me. Instead, whoever it was walked towards Christian, who quickly leaped into action and brought the intruder's leg down, toppling the attacker's balance. It was a male, probably aged about 25 by the looks of him, in tactical gear. How he'd gotten this close to us was a mystery to me. Christian flipped the man onto his stomach, hands behind his back, and I jumped on him and held him while Christian went for some duct tape and a chair. We were going to do this the old fashioned way.
After the intruder was tied up, we grabbed several house appliances - rubber gloves, some knives of both serrated and straight-edged varieties, a clothing iron, plastic bags, baseball bats, a taser, and of course one of Christian's Glocks.
All four of us - Christian, Allison, Sarah, and myself - donned a set of gloves. Then, we set to work. I took hold of the clothing iron before asking the man, "Who sent you?"
He grinned and said, "You really want me to be scared of a little heat?"
"No," I said, and crushed the iron against his head for 30 seconds and said, "I expect you to be psychologically broken by several hundred degrees over several periods of increasing amounts of time. If that doesn't bother you, we've got all night." I indicated all of the items in front of me with a vague gesture.
"You wanna know who sent me?" He said. "It was Jiyu."
"Who at Jiyu?" Christian demanded. We gave the man several seconds to respond before I dropped the iron and retrieved the taser.
I fired it at him and held the trigger for almost a minute before releasing it. "Feel like talking now?"
He spit at me, and looked at the ground. I decided to kove on to the plastic bags. I engulfed his head in the bag, making sure that there were no holes for him to breathe. I didn't hold it too long - I didn't want to kill him, not yet - but long enough.
When I pulled the bag off of his head, he gasped, "Okay! Okay! It was Ron Masterson! Ron sent me!"
"Where is Ron Masterson now?"
"I don't know!"
I grabbed a smooth-edged kitchen knife and slashed his face with it. Nothing, so I gave him a buck 50 - cutting deep into the sides of his mouth to make it appear that he was grinning widely - then smacked his right leg with a platinum baseball bat to make him scream. This made the cuts deeper.
"From now on," I said, tossing a desk, pencil and paper to the man, "You'll have to write. Now, where is Ron Masterson?"
He began writing at a furious pace, then showed it to me: He's catching a cruise ship to Florida at 8pm tonight. You can catch him. Just let me go.
I took another knife and hamstrungboth of his legs before untying him. I threw him some bandages and cloths, then said curtly, "Clean yourself up. Then get out."
"So, what now?" Allison asked. "Are you going to chase down this Masterson guy, or...?"
"At this point, consider his boat already destroyed. Then, we're going to have to call in some back up and blow up all of Jiyu's labs. This has now gone beyond a covert operation. This is war."
"In New York City?"