Heart pounding rapidly in her chest, Erin stared down at the most recent text she just received. “Just be careful, was almost spotted. Also, I saw them pull him out for questioning. My suspicsions were correct," it read. Damn informant— her partner had better be alright by the end of this or… Well, she honestly didn’t know what she’d do if he wasn’t okay.
That was why she was here, embarking on this stupid, impossible rescue mission. She was lucky to have an insider, but how far that would get her, Erin had no clue. She just knew she was smack dab in the middle of trouble, right in the center of enemy territory, and if she was caught she wouldn’t have any hope of rescue. She needed to not only get to her informant, but find her partner without being seen even once.
Deep blue hues sweeping across her cluttered surroundings, the young strawberry blond sank further into the shadows she currently hid in and lifted the cell to text a swift reply. “Noted. Same goes for yourself. You get caught, we’re dead. I’m ignoring my phone for now." After sending the message, she pressed a gloved thumb down on the power button and held it until her screen fell blank.
"…not talking. The major is getting rather frustrated at this point." At the sound of voices coming closer to her location, Erin tensed suddenly alert. She pressed further back against the crates behind her, silently slipping her cell into the inside pocket of her thick denim jacket. "He’s not getting anywhere with the prisoner."
"Tch. I say just gut ‘im already," grumbled a second voice.
"Can’t do that, he has valuable info. You know that," threw in a third.
"So? He won’t talk, he won’t talk. He’s useless."
Craning her neck to steal a quick glance around the crates, Erin knit her brows as she pondered over this solemnly catching a fleeting glimpse of the guards’ retreating forms. If they were looking to weasel information out of Keane, then at least she knew her partner was alive… and would remain alive, for the time being. That was somewhat comforting, though only marginally. Who knew what sort of horrors this group had up their sleeves? She shrank back again and closed her eyes, trying to empty her head of the sea of thoughts that threatened to spill over her. She needed to concentrate on the task at hand; worrying needlessly would just get her killed.
Jaw clenched, Erin reopened her eyes and crouched, shuffling quietly toward the edge to peek around and get as clear a view as she could of her surroundings. Steel walls and endless pipework encased the spacious room; the high ceiling above her had a few busted windows, allowing the daylight from outside pour into the already dimly lit building. Brows furrowed, Erin wondered what this organization was doing in a dilapidated building such as this. The walls and floor were covered in grime and animal waste, though at the moment it seemed rather devoid of animal life. It’s a wonder the electricity even works in this place… she thought as she glanced back in the direction she had entered the building only a few minutes before. Noting mentally that the grate to the ventilation shaft had been put back into place, Erin shifted her attention to the room at large once again.
Empty. Too empty. She wasn’t sure if she trusted it or not. It looked like she didn’t have much choice in the matter, though.
Still, she remained unmoving from her crouched position as her eyes fell on the steel stairwell leading down. “They took him underground," her informant had told her in an earlier message. Considering how there wasn’t much anything here on the upper levels aside from an endless array of crates, feathers, and all manner of animal deposits, Erin supposed this made sense. Where else would they be, if this floor was ground level?
Pushing such useless thoughts aside, Erin scanned the area for any possible refuge along the way toward the stairwell. There were so many stacks of crates strewn about, Erin wasn’t too worried… there was only one stretch she felt cautious about making; the final stretch, of course, along the wide pathway leading to the stairs was in clear view of the front and back entrance, as well as the ramparts above. She had yet to see anyone or anything above, however, so she didn’t concern herself too much with that.
Didn’t mean mean she ruled out the possibility, however. She wasn’t reckless.
Biting her lip in thought, she shrank back and glanced up at the ramparts above. As expected, she saw no sign of movement from overhead and shifted closer to the edge once again, peeking out further than before as she eyed her short-term destination not even ten feet away. Glancing about in either direction, she neither saw nor heard anyone, and moved swiftly toward the new pile of crates across the cement flooring beneath her black boots.
Once there, she hefted herself over a crate and behind with ease, hiding herself within the little pocket someone had left when removing a few crates for whatever purpose. Her blue hues immediately travelled back to the staircase, her next goal, and waited a moment, listening for anything as she did her best to remain both hidden and still. Seconds ticked by and she still heard and saw nothing. Good, she thought, clenching her jaw and slipping out. She inched along the edge of the pile quickly, peeking around toward the front entrance, then the back before she made for the stairwell.
With no door or wall to hide behind before diving in, she didn’t have any other option than to take a risk, pausing at the railing only long enough to glance over to check signs for anyone. Nothing. Why is this place so empty? she wondered. Something didn’t feel right about it.
No matter, it was clear as far as she could tell and, though she felt ill at ease, she didn’t feel as though she were being watched. She would have intuitively known if she was; her line of work called for a strong intuitive sense, after all. But… if my intuition was all that reliable, I wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with, she thought with furrowed brows, booted feet traveling down each step as quickly as she could without making too much noise.
She must have descended several feet down; she lost track of how many turns she had made by the time she heard voices from below. No doorway leading to any levels just yet, but another light source appeared from below, clear male voices following suit.
"…s what I heard. Orders, right?"
"Yeah, orders. But… I swear, the higher ups have lost it or something, moving the base here. We have so many electrical problems here and security is rather weak."
Hearing that, Erin froze where she stood. Slowly, she back up a bit and cautiously peeked over the railing. There, a turn and thirty or forty some more steps below, she could clearly see an open doorway where two figures stood, her angle cutting them off at the waist. She had to wait until they left, she might as well listen in on their conversation, Erin reasoned.
"No kidding. We don’t even have that many numbers yet, I’m surprised we were actually able to catch such a prominent member of the Guild," the man on the right said.
"Me, too. I mean, isn’t he one of Britain’s top hunters…?"
"Yeah— I heard he defeated Baphomet on his own, taking him down like it was nothing…"
Erin bit her lip as she listened to these men, awe in their voices, and shivered a little at the mention of Baphomet. It was yet another reminder of just how out of her partner’s league she was; Keane was on a whole different level than she was. How could she have let this happen? Why did he insist on her getting away, only to allow himself to get caught? Some demon hunter she was, these soldiers weren’t anything special. She could have done something— anything— but she didn’t. Shaking her head slightly, the young woman pushed her thoughts aside and focused on the two men again.
"…Doesn’t matter how many demons that man’s slaughtered, though. Not when he’s up against the major," the man on the right continued. "The major may well be a demon himself."
"Wasn’t the major once a member of the Guild?"
"S’what I heard… It’d explain a few things, wouldn’t it?"
"Yeah, I mean… just the other day Sergeant Reutter broke his nose, but now you couldn’t even tell. People who were present say he just… regenerated, right there."
"Creepy, right? Don’t even know what the hell Reutter was thinking, throwing a punch at the major…" A pause. The two figures fidgeted uncomfortably.
"Well, we should get going before someone comes by and tells us off for standing around chit-chatting while we’re on security detail."
Erin quickly backed away from the railing and up a few more steps in case either one of them stepped into the stairwell, but neither did. She could hear both sets of foot steps walking away from the doorway and disappearing quickly. Waiting several moments as silence settled over her, she moved further down the steps and toward the doorway. Moving along the wall cautiously, the young blond reached the floor entrance.
She needed to press on. It was only a matter of time before she was spotted, after all, and the sooner she reached Keane and the informant, the better. In order to find them, she knew she would have to figure out the layout of this whole complex. She didn’t even know how big it was. Peeking out into the hallway where the two guards had been talking, she noticed the right was clear, but one of them now stood stationed to her left. Swiftly, Erin shrank back and slid into the corner, silently hoping he didn’t catch a glimpse of her.
Now what? she questioned herself with a clench of her narrow jaw. She needed to think quick, every second counted.
Hearing the guard shift on his feet, she tensed slipping a hand into her denim jacket for her small .22 revolver where it remained hidden within its shoulder holster. When he stopped moving and she could hear a heavy sigh from the other side of the wall separating them, she relaxed only a fraction lifting her hand from her .22 to settle in a hidden pocket inside her jacket. Slipping out some of the contents within, she shifted her blue hues from the doorway to them, eying the scrolls she now held with a calculating stare.
Banishing and water scrolls stood out on the top, their Hebrew inscriptions reading clearly to her. Swiftly and silently shifting through them, she found a couple of the scrolls she was looking for. Selecting one and slipping the rest back into her pocket, her eyes moved back toward the door, her thin brows narrowing as she reached down to slide the dagger she had sheathed in her belt at the small of her back. Once out, she placed the scroll between her lips and removed a leather glove, exposing her left thumb. The glove disappeared into a pocket in her jacket almost in the same moment she slid the pad of a single digit against her blade.
Before her blood could stain the cold cement floor, she cleansed her dagger against the black fabric of her snug pants and in the sheath it vanished. Removing the scroll from her pursed lips, she ran her bleeding thumb across the Hebrew inscription reading, “להעלם.”
This will only last a few minutes, she reminded herself mentally as she held the scroll in front of her face. As the blood on the scroll dried from its fresh crimson color, to rustic reddish brown, and lastly to yellow ochre, the black lettering faintly glowed and disappeared along with the stain, the parchment falling to ash but a second after.
As the ash settled upon the gray floor, Erin’s figure grew faint and, before too long, gone. It was a little perturbing being unable to see her own flesh; it wasn’t something she ever could fully get used to, no matter how many times she had used vanishing scrolls in the past. Regardless, she didn’t have a moment of time to waste reflecting on that.
Slowly at first, she moved toward the doorway making extra effort to remain as silent as possible. She certainly didn’t need to alert the guard of her presence by the sound of her footsteps. If he had any amount of intelligence, he wouldn’t assume she was a ghost unlike some buffoons she had encountered in the past.
Now standing out in the hallway, she glanced both ways carefully eying the guard where he stood about a meter from the door. He was relatively short… perhaps an inch shorter than herself. But he was stout, certainly not weak. He fidgeted uncomfortably, glancing about as if he sensed her presence there. Taking that as her cue to hurry and get going, Erin focused on her surroundings rather than the guard.
The right appeared to lead toward a blocked double doorway. Pinching her lips together, she knew that that direction certainly wasn’t her best option. With a quick turn on her heel, Erin stepped silently past the male guard and down the hallway to the left. It wound around in a circle, with several closed doors a few meters out of sight from the stairwell and its guard.
A second guard stood absently in front of one particular door,