Chapter 319 A Trapped Spider
Desmond's red tinted eyes fidgeted, looking from side to side, up to down: everywhere for a threat. All he saw were dirt and trees. Giant trees. In front of them, he felt small, constantly watched.
Out of every bad feeling in the world, Desmond hated the idea of being watched the most. It was one of the reasons why he hated coming to this bunker. The idea of being watched by nature, that there were thousands of creatures above, was unpleasant, to say the least.
Lately, he had been experiencing that feeling more and more in general, never quite being able to shake off the idea that somebody or something was watching him.
It was probably just his nerves, though, especially with the civil war going on with the Trident. A debacle that was, to say the absolute least. The balance was right there, Italian, Japanese and Russian Prongs working seamlessly. As they had been for over 50 years.
But all it took was one bad day, one, utterly insane day, for it all to break apart. Desmond still remembered the meeting with the Three Prongs. The speech the Russian Prong rep said before he blew himself up.
'All of you are thinking too small. You care about balance and the profits that come with it. All you see is this tiny little rock that you call your home, that you think is special. And because of that, you're caged. Like dogs. Old, mangy dogs.
Now, it's time to put the dogs down.'
Just like that, war. War on the tide of mass variant attacks.
War against not only the Italian and Japanese Prongs, but the entire world - the AA-Panop Complex - as well.
What was the Russian Prong thinking?
What was Ivan thinking? He had been head for twenty years, years of secrecy, granted, but was that all to plan for this stunt? Was Ivan really the head anymore?
"We're within ten miles of the bunker coordinates," said Mollusk, one of two of Desmond's highest end bodyguards. The other, Refraction, followed behind, ready to warp everyone out if anything got even the slightest bit suspicious.
Desmond hated traveling in person when he could make do with drones, but Feather, as a capo in the Italian Prong, had status enough to demand a physical presence.
Even then, Desmond was not going to let his guard down. Not with the new cloaking tech the Russian Prong's bots used that kept the world up at night with how deadly it had been.
The only person in the Underworld so far who could devise any countermeasure against it was Mad Jack, and even then, that was up to the whims of Jack's twisted, ever unstable mind.
"Stop here." Desmond pointed forward, into the dark of the forest. In response, several black, dog-sized spider drones unlatched from his back, hovering through the air as they paved the way forward, scanning it all.
"Are you sure about this?" said Mollusk, his slimy, octopus-like blue head pulsating. "Feather's a capo. He won't like that you're implying the safety he guarantees isn't enough."
"Feather will have to deal with it," said Desmond. "There's only so much respect I can afford in times like this."
"So, are you here or not?" Feather sat in front of an empty metal table, impatiently tapping the steely grey surface with his fingers.
Around Feather, several spider drones floated around, directing their red, grid-patterned scanning beams across every inch of the mobile home's dingy unkempt insides.
"I need to secure the area first." Desmond's voice emanated through the drones.
"You do know I'm a capo, right? I deserve more respect than this. Without me, you wouldn't even be halfway where you are now." Feather frowned, his shaded eyes staring at the drones.
"I understand you are my biggest investor and tie to the Trident, but I cannot afford to be less than careful now," said Desmond. "Custom has to take a backseat with the civil war going on.
And, if I remember correctly, I was the one that tipped you off on that kidnapping attempt."
"Tch. Yeah. Fuckers almost got me, too." Feather snorted. "Too bad you and I are always one step ahead of the game, eh?"
"Stay complacent, and you'll fall behind sooner than you think. Now, more so than ever. The world's started to up its pace in terms of pure chaos. Thankfully, the war's cooled down for a bit - you're safe to leave after our meeting."
"Yeah, ain't that true." Feather rapped his knuckles on the table, more impatient than ever. "It's been five minutes of this scanning shit. Get your ass over here so we can talk business."
"We could talk business like this." A spider drone hovered in front of Feather, across the table.
"Fuck that. The more we get cool tech toys like this, the more we have to value tradition. Why the fuck would I drag you out here if I was going to talk to you through a damn screen? Scratch that, this drone of yours doesn't even have a screen.
Is this how you're going to insult me?'
"...I'm on my way. I've confirmed that your surroundings are safe."
"Excellent observation, genius. Think I'd be here if I didn't know that?" Feather snorted. "I'll let this slide this time. Now get your ass over here."
Desmond sat across from Feather. Mollusk and Refraction stood on alert, ready to deal with any possible threat. Spider drones floated outside, ready to report the slightest disturbance.
In a single instant, Refraction could warp everyone out here if needed. He was, after all, one of Desmond's most trusted bodyguards. Mollusk did not fall far behind either. As an A-rank mutant, he was more than enough muscle to deal with all but the absolute highest class of threats.
"You don't have any guards with you?" Desmond asked Feather.
"Couldn't bring any after that short notice you gave me. Fucking lit a match right under my ass, you did. Think I had time to hire anyone new?" said Feather.
"This is why you need to build up relations with your guards," said Desmond.
"Past three capos before me got shanked or betrayed by their close guard. Ain't letting that happen to me." Feather grinned. "Anyway, how are things on the outside?"
"The Russian Prong's gone mad," said Desmond.
"Madder than Mad Jack?"
"Madder, if that was even possible. They attacked the Judicata and took down Supermind."
"Shit, Supermind? Really? Rest in piece, you sweet old legend. And how the fuck did they pull something like that off?"
"Unknown technology," said Desmond. "Current reigning theory is that it's alien."
"Alien, huh? Thought nobody could work with that shit."
"That's what we thought. But we're the criminal underworld - we aren't the experts in that field. The government is. But that's a different topic." Desmond shifted in his seat, uncomfortable, feeling tense. "Why did you bring me out here? You said you had important information that was urgent.
"Your death." Aldrich's voice echoed outwards, permeating through the room, though nobody could pinpoint where it came from.
But Desmond was not about to find out. He instantly stood up. "Get us out!"
"Roger." Refraction immediately opened up his palms, creating two transparent mirror constructs. But, before the constructs could form properly, they shattered into a rain of fading shards.