Bernard slipped into the darkness outside of his room, and ran past the buildings of the old high school. He dodged through the open spaces, turning down the alleys that a generation earlier would have been filled with students, if it weren’t in the middle of the night. He thanked the heavens for the thick layer of clouds overhead. He was unsure whether he hoped for rain or not. A dry night would make it easier to run away, and the rain would make it easier to move in for the kill.
Why did Evan have to be so stupid? Bernard had no orders to kill him, or to even assess how well he was doing as the regional head of the syndicate, but being a man with power often made you paranoid. Bernard supposed that his death would come some day because someone in the syndicate felt threatened by him. He had done his best to never appear interested in power or advancement, and maintaining that appearance was far harder than not wanting it. He was more than a thug and that made people think he aspired to greatness, and they were right, but not in the way they thought.
He hid in a service alcove behind one of the converted outbuildings. He took a deep breath and counted to one-hundred. Bernard pulled out his blades one at a time, checked their balance and the sharpness of their blades, and stuck them into the various hidden sheathes spread around his body. He could hear the shouts of angry men and knew that they would come looking for him soon. He had avoided leaving much of a trail by stepping on concrete as much as possible, but there were places where that had been impossible. A skilled tracker would find him, despite the darkness, but the alcove would provide cover long enough for Bernard to make a decision.
"Bernard," whispered someone from beyond the bushes he was using as cover. "Bernard, it's me, Felix. Are you in there?"
Bernard smiled and shook his head. "Get in here," Bernard whispered. His shorter, thinner, friend pushed his way through the bushes and squatted in the dirt beside Bernard.
"So do we get to kill that arrogant prick?" Felix asked.
"I'm not sure. We don't have orders to kill him, and it may upset the Syndicate to do so," Bernard said as he tucked the last of the blades away.
Felix threw his hands up in the air. "Oh come on! You know that shit isn't worth anything to the Syndicate. Hell, they probably sent you here hoping he would take a shot at you and nature would follow its course."
Bernard wiped his hand down his face, removing the sweat and dirt that was accumulating there. "You may be right," he said, "it does sound like something they would do."
"You're damn right it does," Felix said with a giggle. "Now let's go shank this guy and go home."
"I don't think it will be as easy as that, Felix. Evan's men are brutes, but they are well armed and there are a lot of them." Bernard opened his pack, pulled out a pair of handguns, and checked the clips to verify they were full. "I would prefer a little more time to plan if we're going to take out a Syndicate boss."
"Bah, they're scattered about looking for us," Felix said. "If we strike now, we can execute him and be on our way before we see more than a dozen or so thugs."
Bernard considered Felix's words. They may stand a chance after all. It was unlikely they would expect him to come after Evan, so they would spread out, and try to catch him before he could get back to Gary. Evan was not a complete moron, so he would keep some of his best back for protection, but they were nothing compared to Bernard. He might have let the whole thing go with a warning, but the predictability, and the pathetic attempt at killing him, made Bernard seethe. He was one of the greatest assassins alive, and Evan sent a couple of toughs after him? The lack of respect made the decision an easy one..
The guns were tucked into his shoulder holsters and his blades were all stored within easy reach when Bernard spoke again. "This could get very messy, Felix."
"Like I care about messy," he said with a twinkle in his eye. "I'm just glad you have to do it up close and personal rather than using the sniper rifle."
"Huh," Bernard grunted, "I guess I was wrong."
"About what?" Felix asked.
"All this time I thought you preferred the safety of killing from so far away." Bernard stood and looked at the back wall of the alcove.
"Bullshit," Felix said. "You know I love it when you get in close and mix it up. Killing from far away is boring."
"Well I think you'll be very happy then," Bernard said as he climbed, "because we're going to teach Evan, Lord of the South, a little lesson in respect."
Bernard scaled the wall and climbed onto the roof of the old schoolroom. He looked about the compound and smiled. There were plenty of people running around with flashlights and torches, but they were all on the ground. He doubted anyone would be looking to the roofs. A quick run to the old gymnasium and Evan's lesson would begin.
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