Echo drove back to her house and heard Hayley park her bike in the driveway a few minutes later. Hayley opened the door- it was locked- and walked into the living room. Echo arched an eyebrow at her.
‘You know everyone’s contact details, I know the layout of everyone’s house. By the way, I’ve decided to overlook that you found my number.’
‘So, what’s happened?’
‘Well, I was talking to Sparky while she was walking home from work, and a man grabbed her. She tried to shock him, but it didn’t work, because he gave her a sedative and dragged her away.’ Echo stood up, going to get a silencer for Hayley’s gun.
‘Don’t.’ Hayley said, pulling a silencer out of the inside pocket of her jacket. She nearly tossed it onto the wooden coffee table, but stopped herself right before she did. Echo sent her a nod of appreciation and sat down again. There was a moment of silence.
‘It must drive you mad.’ Hayley mumbled.
‘Being able to hear everything. Being able to smell everything, and see every little detail.’ She paused and chuckled, ‘When the neighbours have-‘
‘Don’t!’ Echo interrupted, shaking the thought out of her mind. ‘Don’t say it…!’ Hayley merely grinned back.
‘So, what’s the game plan, then?’ Hayley asked, leaning back. ‘Sparky’s gotten herself into another mess and, as always, I’ve been called in to get her out of trouble.’
‘There may be a small problem with that.’
‘I couldn’t track the kidnapper. It was raining too hard. I can barely stand outside for more than thirty seconds at a time.’
‘So… What do we do?’
‘I’ll show you the way to where she was taken.’ Echo said, standing up and getting her keys. Hayley sighed and stood up after her, picking her helmet up off the ground by the door. She put it on and walked over to her bike and waited for Echo to start her car up. Hayley could tell that it was going to be a long night.
Hayley kept her helmet on when she saw Echo stop, braking on her bike and flipping the kick stand out. She walked up to Echo’s car, glancing upwards at the annoying sound of the rain hitting her helmet, which she could now hear clearly because the engine of her bike had been roaring over the top of it before. She opened the door to Echo’s car and sat inside.
‘Sorry about the water.’ She grunted, her words being muffled through her helmet, which she took off as soon as she finished speaking.
‘Will you be able to track them once the rain stops?’ Hayley asked.
‘It depends. The rain should be stopping soon, so there’s a chance.’
‘How good is the chance?’ Hayley asked, brushing the water off her arms.
‘Very slim. We may have to bring some other people in.’
‘Like?’ Hayley resisted the urge to groan. Hayley hated people as a rule. They had to earn her good humour, which is something few people managed.
‘Well, for one, I never saw the guy, and he’s probably throwing his scent, so we’d need a psychic…’
‘Asche.’ Echo answered. Hayley finally groaned and tilted her head back.
‘Why are you still in touch with her?’
‘We work together.’ Echo said, simply. Hayley shook her head.
‘Nup, nope, I’m going now. Call me at a reasonable hour. Like two in the afternoon.’ Hayley said, getting out of the car and putting her helmet on.
‘But what about Sparky?’ Echo called.
‘She can take care of herself for a few hours. If she was going to be killed, they’d have killed her on the spot.’
‘But-‘ Echo began, but was cut off by Hayley leaning back into the car and pulling her helmet off again.
‘Look, I’m getting supplies. If we’re going to be bringing other people in, we need a method of communication. Not everyone will have a silencer for their guns, and you won’t have enough spares. Different people need different equipment, tailored to their abilities. So while you get them, I’m going to go do what I do best.’
‘And what’s that?’
‘I’m gonna steal that shit.’
The rain had stopped by the time Echo got home, and it was about five in the morning. As Echo walked into her living room, she yawned and pulled her phone out, calling the number of her friend, Asche Inferno. Asche didn’t pick up, no doubt to how early it was and the fact that her job normally didn’t require her to be up in the mornings. Echo sighed and called again. This time Asche replied on the sixth ring.
‘Whaat?’ she grumbled, rubbing her eyes as she got up.
‘I need you to come over.’
‘But it’s our day off, Echo! You know what that means, right? It means sleeping in till noon and not worrying about anyone’s wellbeing for a few quiet hours!’
‘Look, I need you to come over.’
‘Do you want me to blow something up?’ Asche asked, her eyes widening in anticipation.
‘No! No, Asche! I told you, no blowing things up in my house!’
‘Just come, alright? See you soon.’
‘Alright…’ Asche moaned, hanging up the phone. She got up and donned a grey hoodie and some jeans, pulld a pair of scruffy black converse on and patted her pet cat, Felix, before quickly brushing her hair and pulling back into an untidy ponytail before walking to Echo’s house, which was a few blocks away. She opened the door- it wasn’t locked- and kicked her shoes off before walking into the living room and crashing onto Echo’s couch.
‘Now tell me why I’m here.’
‘That girl… Will be the death of us.’ Asche said, gripping her cup of tea, frowning.
‘I’ve been told.’
‘Have you been told today?’
‘By who?’ Asche asked, sitting up.
‘Ah.’ Asche sipped her tea, her brow creasing further. ‘Then where is she?’
‘Getting supplies, apparently.’ Echo answered. ‘Anyway, we should be getting to work.’
‘Echo, you know that I can really only see the future, right? I can tell you where Sparky is now.’
‘Then let’s find out where she’ll be.’
Asche was sitting in the middle of Echo’s sitting room, in deep concentration. A scene folded out inside her head.
Sparky was chained to a chair, sitting chest deep in water. The room was closed off and there was a glass window that two hooded figures stood behind, with a control panel in front of them. One of them leaned forward and spoke into the microphone.
‘What’s worse than torture?’ he said. His words came through a speaker in the room with Sparky. Unfazed, she arched an eyebrow.
‘Do you want me to answer this question, because I don’t really want to.’
‘Humiliation. More specifically, humiliating torture.’
‘Oh, so that’s why I’m practically underwater. I think you missed the memo, though. I don’t shock myself anymore.’
‘Only when you’re panicking.’ The man says, grinning widely.
‘Yeah…’ Sparky replied. ‘Look, what exactly do you want? I’m one of those faceless people in the Sanctuary, which I assume you know about because of your protective clothing and knowledge of my magic.’
‘It’s not to do with your job. You have two options. You tell us what we want to know, or we keep you hostage until your friends find you.’
‘What do you want to know?’ Sparky asked.
‘A friends of yours took something that belongs to us. We’d like it back.’
‘Dammit, Hayley.’ She muttered, ‘And I can help you with that because…?’ she asked, flicking a strand of hair off her face.
‘You’re the only person who’s safe to keep in a situation like this who has close ties to Hayley Skirmish.’
‘Vulpin Rogue is a dangerous person to keep as a hostage.’
‘I see.’ Sparky pondered it for a moment. ‘So, I’m a lure?’
‘If you don’t tell us where Skirmish is.’
‘Well, in that case, you’re going to have to wait for a while.’ Sparky informed. The quiet man chuckled.
‘We haven’t even started the interrogation yet, Braginski.’ The man said. The quiet man, whom Sparky had already chosen to refer to as ‘Buttons’- Sparky always had an odd sense of humour- flicked a switch on the control panel. A small section of the wall slid away and a miniature platform extended into the room. On the platform rested a glass box, with a large, black spider inside it. Sparky’s attitude changed immediately.
‘Okay, this is a whole world of not okay.’ She said, as the platform stopped, just in front of her shoulder. The spider moved slightly within the box, and Sparky jerked back, uttering a whimper.
‘I will fuck you up, guys, seriously.’ Sparky said. The first man- now known as Rat- spoke into the microphone again.
‘All you have to do is tell how to get Skirmish.’
‘Which you’ll never hear from me.’
‘That’s too bad.’ Rat sighed. He nodded at Buttons who pressed another button, which lifted the lid of the box and the spider started moving towards Sparky.
‘Don’t worry,’ Rat laughed, ‘it’s not poisonous.’ The spider scuttled closer to Sparky who jerked again.
‘No, no, no, no, no, no-‘ the spider crawled onto her shoulder and she screamed, then clenched her mouth shut at the thought of the spider walking on her face. She shut her eyes tight and curled her hands into fists. The spider slowly made it’s way closer to Sparky’s neck. The instant is touched her skin the room light up and Sparky screamed. As soon as the light was gone Sparky convulsed until the dead spider dropped off her shoulder. The room lit up once more and Sparky screamed again. She spent a moment shaking before grunting something and Rat tapped the microphone.
‘I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.’ He smirked.
‘Please.’ Sparky sobbed.
‘Then tell us.’
The image whipped out of Asche’s mind right as Sparky opened her mouth again, whether to scream or tell was unknown. Now, normally Asche would be the first in line to laugh at Sparky’s phobia of spiders, but watching her friend be filled with such absolute terror was jarring. Echo had been watching Asche silently.
‘Where is she?’ she asked. Asche shut her eyes and thought carefully.
‘I need a map.’
Asche was lying on Echo’s couch, having a nap when Echo finished figuring out exactly where it was Sparky’s going to be. She then got her phone out and checked the time. Seeing that it was now 8:00, she figured it would be safe to call the next person they were going to need.
‘Áine, are you there?’
‘Yeah. Who else would be answering my phone?’
‘Can you come over?’
‘Sure, why?’ Áine asked. Echo considered answering her.
‘I’ll tell you when you get here.’ She said, noticing Asche get up and move into her kitchen.
‘Alright see you soon.’ Áine said, ending the call. Echo pocketed her phone and followed Asche into the kitchen.
‘What are you doing?’
‘Coffee.’ Asche mumbled. Echo watched her walking around the kitchen for a moment.
‘What are you thinking about?’ Echo asked.
‘They’re using Sparky as a lure. She could be tortured five minutes from now, or five days from now, but they’re using her as bait, and I know we’re falling into a trap.’
‘What do you think we should do?’ Echo asked. Asche shrugged.
‘I don’t know, Sparky’s the one who plans everything in these situations!’
She defended. She poured the coffee into a mug and took a sip from it.
‘Have you considered calling Acid?’ Asche asked, eventually. Echo nodded.
‘I’ll send her a text.’
Acid pulled up to the curb of Echo’s house at the same time as Áine. They looked at each other carefully, before Áine’s eyes widened.
‘Aw, shit. What’s she done this time?’
‘Of course…’ Acid sighed. The pair walked to Echo’s front door and smiled as it opened in front of them.
‘There’s coffee. I think you’ll need it.’ Echo greeted. The two girls’ suspicions confirmed, they walked into the house, looking for the coffee. Echo explained to them what the predicament was as they drank. When she was finished, Áine asked a question.
‘Who else has been called in?’
‘Well-‘ Echo started.
‘How fortunate that I guessed those two would be here when I came back.’ Hayley Skirmish walked across the threshold and placed a box on the kitchen counter. She looked at the four girls in front of her.
‘I hope there’s room for one more person to crash this retrieval mission.’
‘Who?’ Acid asked. The front door opened again and a blonde girl with bright eyes and an equally enthusiastic smile sauntered in. Her weathered combat boots made little sound as she moved, and her jacket sleeves concealed the twin daggers strapped to the backs of her forearms.
‘Really Acid,’ she said, leaning onto the counter, 'The question is "Who else?"' Vulpin Rouge finished, grinning widely.
People misunderstand how not-okay I am with spiders.