“Your attention please, gentlemen.” Snowman stood to address all of the Felt. The statement was unnecessary. Snowman had everyone's attention as soon as she entered the room. Behind her, Cans and Sawbuck carried a very large wooden crate. They let it down with a thud right behind Snowman. Crowbar used his namesake to pry the lid off.
“Inside this crate are the weapons and ammo that we'll be using. We have shotguns, Thomson sub-machine guns, and pistols. If you have a preference, please let Crowbar know when you come to collect your weapons. If your preferred gun is out, either trade with someone else or stay near a person with your preferred weapon. If that person dies, congratulations, you get your preferred weapon.”
Snowman paused to light another cigarette. The flame from the lighter shone off of her skin
“Hopefully that won't be an issue. We're going in on their turf, but if we hit them hard and fast, they shouldn't have time to respond. Stitches, the blueprint please.”
Stitches obediently unrolled a large blueprint and pinned the corners down. Snowman stood in front of it and the remaining dozen Felt gathered around her.
“Unfortunately, Biscuits was caught and killed before he could relay back any useful information. However, we have some information about entrances and exits and the general layout of the building. Now, please pay attention...”
“Okay everyone! Pay attention!” Jade shouted to everyone in the speakeasy. The rest of Karkat’s gang all stood lined up in front of some makeshift targets in the basement room of the speakeasy. They were mostly wooden cutouts placed against a wall of sandbags that they had spent the better part of the day setting up. Jade and Vriska stood in front of the rest of the crew.
“Rule one!” Jade said, “All guns are always loaded. Remember that. Also, don't point your weapon at anything you aren’t ready to shoot. Always store your gun unloaded.”
Vriska continued the lesson, “Safety is on when your gun is holstered and off when it's drawn. Keep your finger off the trigger until you have your target in sight. Know what your target is and what is behind your target. Despite the name, friendly fire is generally not very friendly.”
She got a few looks from the audience. Vriska gave them the evil eye in the way only she could. It was the look of someone who was hanging on to their patience by their teeth. I don't feel like putting up with smart-ass comments, it said. Jade had a few words with her before the lesson and...convinced...her that it would be in her best interests to play this lesson straight.
“Oh! That reminds me,” Jade said, “From this day forward, no one is allowed to wear any green. Sorry, Kanaya. We don't know when the Felt are going to attack, but you're not going to have time to change clothes when they do. Like Vriska said, we have to be sure of our targets.”
“For the purpose of this exercise, remember who are targets actually are,” Equius announced to Sollux, Terezi, and Nepeta. The three of them sat on or leaned against the reception desk in the lobby of the police station, while Equius paced slowly in front of them.
“For now, as much as I don't like to say it, our only enemies are the Felt. Serket is not a target.”
Sollux grunted. Equius ignored it.
“Vantas and the rest of his hooligans are not targets. If we injure one of them, that's one less person fighting on our side. If any of them dies, the...deal...falls through. We want this to go as smoothly as possible. Now, we're going to head over to the club so we can get an idea of the layout and skills of the people we'll be working with. Does everyone have their weapons? Good. Let's go.”
“And...go!” Vriska, standing over to the side of the lineup of students, dropped her upraised arm. All at once, the basement was filled with noise as the students drew their weapons, unlocked the safety, and opened fire. Jade and Vriska both walked up and down the lineup, looking for people having trouble.
“Good grouping, Rose. You've done this before, haven't you?” Jade said.
“I've taken a couple self-defense lessons at my mother's insistence.”
Down the line, Vriska was standing next to John, who wasn't doing as well.
“Nyet! Nyet! You're holding it wrong. Here.” Vriska stood behind John, leaned against his back and looked over his shoulder. She wrapped her arms around him and grabbed one of his wrists with each hand.
“Hold your gun level like this, so you can see straight down the sights. Steady it with your other hand. Looking cool doesn’t mean much if you can't hit anything.”
“Uh...right.” John was blushing heavily. Vriska was leaning right up against his back. He felt her breath against his ear. Vriska grinned wickedly.
“Keep your target in sight. Line it up. Don't pull. Just...gently...squeeze.” She leaned up against him harder on the last word. John fired off three quick shots. Vriska looked down range.
“Better! Keep practicing.” She patted him on the shoulder and moved down the line. John was still having trouble forming coherent thoughts and couldn’t manage to get a response out before she moved on.
When Vriska got down to Karkat, he stopped shooting long enough to talk to her.
“That was a fucking mean trick. Where did you learn shit like that?”
“Must have picked it up from my mother,” Vriska said just loud enough for him to hear over the gunfire, “She was a real man-eater.”
“Yeah, I'll bet,” Karkat said. He fired off a few more rounds, before stopping Vriska and whispering in her ear. "Look, if you see Gamzee duck out, let him."
"Because I don't want to deal with the Reverend today."
At the other end of the line, Jade was coaching Tavros, who was using her old shotgun.
“Okay, make sure that you have it tight against your shoulder. It has a bit of a kick. Get your target lined up and squeeze off a shot.”
“Oh wow, are you okay?”
“You might want to make sure you have your brake on next time you fire, kay?”
Vriska started laughing from the other end of the line.
Karkat sighed. Some of them were doing okay, but others were hopeless. Dave's aim was terrible, Gamzee took way too long to line up his shots, and Kanaya wasn't handling the idea of recoil very well. They were going to embarrass Karkat. And the police were already on their way.
“The police are on their way over to the speakeasy,” Crowbar said to Snowman. Snowman just nodded and turned to the rest of the Felt.
“Alright, everyone. Get your weapons and get ready.” As she spoke, she made sure her body armor was strapped on tightly.
“This is the moment you've all been waiting for. Move fast. Hit hard. Leave no prisoners. Move out.”
There was some panic in the Loaded Key as the police stepped inside, but Karkat quickly calmed everyone down.
“Relax, you fuckers! They're here to help.”
“You're kidding. Help us?” Dave said.
“Yeah, and I had to pull some major fucking strings, so don't fuck this up,” Karkat said to his gang at large as Terezi walked into the room.
“My, my, so many laws being broken in plain sight.”
“We have a deal Terezi,” Karkat said warningly, quiet enough so only the two of them could hear.
“Indeed we do,” She whispered, “Don't worry. We'll keep our end of the bargain. You get our help and no one has to know that you sold out Vriska.” Terezi was hoping to annoy him with the “sold out” comment, but if it did, Karkat didn't show it.
While Karkat and Terezi talked business, Equius, with Sollux and Nepeta behind him, talked to the rest of the gang.
“Which one of you has experience with weapons?”
“Vriska and I are trained,” Jade said, “Karkat and Rose know enough to get by. The rest have about two hours.” She shrugged.
“What weapons do you have?” Equius went on. Vriska spoke up this time.
“Two Tommy guns, a rifle, a shotgun, some pistols, and this.” She patted her gun, which was hanging on her shoulder. Equius stammered and started sweating.
“It's a B.A.R, yes.” Vriska nodded.
“I am positive that's illegal. Somehow.”
“Maybe. Not the issue right now.”
It was John who asked the question on everyone's minds.
“Look, not that we don't appreciate it, but why are you guys helping us when...”
Equius hesitated, but Nepeta covered him.
“We decided that the Felt are more dangerous than you guys. You're the lesser of two evils right now. Right, Sergeant?”
“Ah...right,” Equius stammered. It was true enough.
“Don't think we like it,” Sollux added. His shotgun was cradled under his arm.
“Watch where you point that thing, Officer,” Vriska said with a smirk, “We don't want any accidents.”
Sollux gritted his teeth, but Equius placed a hand lightly on his shoulder.
“Patience,” he said quietly.
Sollux wanted so very badly to wipe the grin off her face, but he simply turned and marched upstairs.
“Checking the doors,” He said briskly.
“Help him out please, Detective Leijon,” Equius said.
Nepeta nodded quickly and scampered up the stairs.
To everyone else in the group, it just looked like an officer understandably disliking being told what to do by a criminal. Terezi and Karkat were involved in their own discussion on the other side of the room.
“Now that they're looking at Zahhak, and not us…” Terezi said quietly, “Do you have your end of the deal?”
Karkat shifted his eyes around a bit before reaching into his pocket and handing Terezi a folded piece of paper.
“Here, keep it out of sight.”
“Oh yes.” Terezi grinned like a kid in a candy store. She reverently took the piece of paper, quickly scanned it to make sure it was the genuine article, and then folded it back up and slipped it in her jacket pocket, “We'll catch up later. For now, let's join the rest of the party.”
They walked over and stood at the back of the group. Terezi stood next to Vriska.
“How does it feel to know that your days are numbered?” Terezi whispered in Vriska's ear, “Feel a pressure on your neck yet?”
“Hrmph.” Vriska glared at her, “Only if the Felt don't kill you first, Pyrope. We still have a fight to win.”
“Or you. But don't worry. I wouldn't let anything happen to you. I want you to get exactly what's coming to you.” She grinned and leered at Vriska from behind her red glasses.
“You remind me of a pig wallowing in shit,” Vriska hissed back, “You still have to pin something to me.”
“Shouldn't be that hard. I have so many crimes to choose from.”
Terezi realized then that John was staring at them.
“Just catching up.” Terezi smiled, placing an arm around Vriska's shoulder. Vriska gave a weak smile.
“You two know each other?” John asked, looking surprised.
“From a long time ago, John. Ancient history.” Vriska waved her hand dismissively.
“I'm hurt, Vriska,” Terezi said with an exaggerated frown, “After all we've been-”
“They're coming! They're coming!” Nepeta scrambled out to the ledge at the top of the stairs. They all looked up at her with shock on their faces.
“They're here!” She shouted down at them.
“Fuck!” Karkat barked, “They must have thought we were being raided! Everyone get your guns! Upstairs, now!”
Clover pulled out his oversized, gold pocket-watch. He looked at Snowman in the backseat.
“Sure doesn’t sound like the place is being raided.” He said quietly.
Five cars were parked along the street outside the club, each one holding two or three Felt. They all waited, quiet and tense, for a signal from Snowman.
Snowman took one last drag from her cigarette before pulling it out of the holder and flicking it onto the street.
“How long since they went inside?” She asked as she pulled out another.
“I don't know. They got here before we did, but we've been waiting for at least fifteen minutes.”
Snowman looked up as she heard some thudding sounds come from inside the club. It sounded like tables were being overturned. Snowman pulled out her old silver lighter, and flipped the top open with a sound like a knife being sharpened. She flicked her thumb, and held the flame up to the new cigarette.
“Let’s go,” She said, as the lighter clicked shut. She made sure her revolver was loaded as she stepped out of the car, quiet and dark as a shadow, with only the glow of the cigarette to show that she was even there. The rest of the Felt climbed out of their cars, each clutching some sort of weaponry. Shotguns, Tommy guns, pistols, and even some grenades.
“Cans,” Snowman said quietly, “Knock on the door, please.”
Cans, one of the biggest Felt, walked over next to Snowman. Without even needing a running start, he turned and slammed his shoulder against the door. It crashed open.
The inside of the club was dark and quiet.
A few of the Felt filtered in, including Clover, Itchy, Cans, Quarters, and Fin. Snowman looked around. She could make out that some of the tables on the other end of the room were turned over, but it was too dark to see otherwise. Fin had found a light-switch and flipped it.
Snowman realized that all the tables that were flipped over were in a row. All the top sides of the tables were facing away from the front door.
“Cover!” She yelled, drawing her gun. Cans and Quarters quickly flipped two tables towards them and Snowman ducked behind one.
“Fire!” Karkat yelled.
The world went mad.
Gamzee felt like a coward. He didn't want to kill people. He didn't want to be killed. He just wanted to sit and drink wine and laugh with his friends.
Between staying busy getting ready for the upcoming fight and sheer nerves, he hadn't had a drink in two days.
He had snuck upstairs, where Karkat's office and some other rooms were. Along with some random storage, Karkat let Gamzee have one of the rooms for himself, where he could sleep and spend time alone when he didn't...when he didn't want to go back home. When the old goat was there.
Hands shaking, he locked the door behind him and turned on the light. Along with some boxes, empty wine bottles and an old cot, there was one of Gamzee most valued possessions: a large, brass crucifix hanging on the wall.
It was three feet long and held onto the wall with four sturdy nails. There were no jewels and no ornamentation, just a plain, polished cross.
Gamzee walked slowly over to the cross. He dropped to his knees in front of it. He dropped his eyes, unable to look at the symbol.
“Bless me father, for I have sinned...”
Fin went down with the first volley, slumped against the wall, smearing blood along with him as he dropped. Itchy was behind the tables before anyone knew what happened, joining the rest of the Felt. Clover joined soon afterward, none the worse for wear except for a hole in his hat.
“Looks like we were set up,” Clover said calmly.
Snowman growled. “If Biscuits wasn't dead already, I'd kill him.” She lifted her gun over the table and fired a couple of blind shots.
Cans clapped Quarters on the shoulder.
“Give me some cover fire.” He rumbled. “I'm going to go around the back of 'em.”
Quarters nodded. He leveled his Tommy gun and launched a fusillade over the top of the tables. Vriska responded with a quick burst from her BAR, while Cans took the opportunity to scoop up a shotgun and run sideways, firing shots off as he went. He circled around to the end of the row of overturned tables that were giving his opponents cover, where he stopped and leveled his shotgun at his exposed foes.
Equius was waiting for him. The troll grabbed the shotgun and wrenched it out of the big man's hands, tossing it over next to the stage.
“You're under arrest. Come quietly and-” He was cut off by a massive fist. Equius' head snapped back and he fell to the floor, blood trailing from his nose.
“That's a funny one, copper. Let’s see how funny you are now that I just broke your neck.”
Equius grabbed a table and hauled himself back to his feet. Cans was surprised. Usually people stopped moving for good after he hit them that hard.
Equius glared at the huge man, then turned his head and spat out two teeth. Cans could see that some of the others were cracked.
“I see you're the 'resisting arrest' type. Very well.” Equius cracked his knuckles.
Cans took another swing at him, but this time Equius was ready. He stopped the hook dead with his forearm and countered with a pile-driver hit that sent Cans stumbling backwards.
Equius pressed the attack, with two more hits: a hook to the jaw and a punch to the gut.
Cans didn't know what to do. This guy fought like a street pro. He threw another punch, but Equius side stepped it and landed a couple jabs, bouncing lightly on his feet. Cans decided to throw out the rules of engagement. He grabbed a chair and lifted it high over his head.
Equius threw an undercut that landed on Can's chin with the sound of breaking bone.
Cans went down and stayed down.
Equius ducked back behind the tables, only to see Sollux and Nepeta staring at him, slack jawed. He pointed a finger at them.
“You have shooting to do.”
Nepeta quickly picked up her police-issue revolver, and Sollux his shotgun. They decided that they didn't want to know.
Itchy jumped out from behind cover and sprinted to the other side of the room, the opposite direction Cans went. He fired off six shots from his pistol, fast as machine gun fire. Jade tried to get a shot off while he was reloading, but Itchy had six new bullets in and the hammer cocked before the empties even stopped bouncing. Jade winced as another shot grazed the top of the table, right next to her head, before she could even get a single shot off. She ducked down again.
Itchy had already ducked behind cover again. Jade realized that he was just going to move from cover to cover until he could get behind them. She reached in her pocked and pulled out a handful of bullets.
Well, ammo is cheap, right?
Itchy, just as Jade had expected, darted towards another table for cover. Jade threw out the handful of bullets, and they clattered right in front of the sprinting gunman. Itchy stepped on them and enough of the cylinders rolled that he lost his balance, tumbled forward, and smashed his head on the corner of the table he had been running for.
He lay on the ground, still as a corpse. Jade popped out just long enough to aim her rifle and made sure that he stayed that way.
Meanwhile, Snowman was not in a good mood. Today was not going like she planned. She motioned to Quarters and Clover and they all ducked back out the front door.
The silence was deafening.
“Are they gone?” Nepeta asked. Karkat shook his head.
“They're probably going to try and use the back ramp. Everyone downstairs. You three...” He pointed to Dave, Vriska, and Terezi, “Stay here and yell if they try to come back in this way. Try not to fucking kill each other, alright?”
“You're leaving me with these two?” Dave jabbed his thumb over his shoulder.
“Well I'm sure as fuck not leaving them alone. You keep talking about how good you are with the ladies. Prove it,” Karkat said as he followed the rest of the gang down the stairs.
“You hear that Terezi? He's good with the laaaaaaaadies,” Vriska said mockingly.
“Oh God,” Dave muttered under his breath.
“I don't know. He IS pretty cute.”
“You can't be serious!” Vriska snapped.
Terezi walked over to Dave and stood right in front of him, her face scant inches away from his. Dave folded his arms in front of him and kept a blank look on his face.
“You've got very nice eyes,” She said, looking at him with an appraising gaze, “It's a shame you hide them behind those glasses of yours.”
“Says the troll with the red lenses.” Dave smirked. Terezi just laughed.
“I'll show you mine if you show me yours.” She grinned like a shark. Vriska made gagging noises in the background.
Terezi pulled her glasses down and looked over the rims as Dave sighed, and lifted his shades to look back at her.
“Such lovely eyes,” Terezi purred.
Vriska groaned. She's rather be shot at then have to deal with this...
Then she caught something out of the corner of her eye. Something had been thrown through the doorway.
It was a grenade.
Everything seemed to slow down. Vriska tried to run forward, but she felt like she was running through water. Her mind raced. How long was the fuse on these things again? Usually around four seconds. Give them a second after they pull the pin to throw it. Three seconds left.
The grenade bounced on the wooden floor and arced up over the tables that they were using for cover. Call it two seconds now. It was practically going to land at Dave and Terezi's feet. Dave took a step back, holding Terezi.
Terezi turned around and her face, in slow motion to Vriska, shifted into a mask of horror.
Vriska leaned forward as far as she could and swung her hand down low. She caught the grenade right as it was about to hit the floor again, and swatted it back over the tables.
Using the momentum from swinging her arm, she twisted up and around on her heel, and clapped her hands on Dave and Terezi. Out of reflex, she pulled them both to the ground and pinned them down, laying on top of them.
The grenade barely made it back through the open door before exploding. Part of the door frame was blown out and the one Felt who stayed behind to throw the grenade, Sawbuck, was rendered unrecognizable.
Vriska slowly lifted her head back up. Dave was the first to break the silence.
“You are, without a doubt, the luckiest bitch I know,” He gasped.
“Hah! Pure! Fucking! Skill!” Vriska laughed the laugh of someone who had just escaped death by the skin of their teeth.
“Vriska,” Terezi said quietly, “Not that I'm not grateful, but I still don't like you.” She raised her voice a bit, “So watch where you're putting your hands!”
“Sorry.” Vriska grinned as she pushed herself back to her feet. She dusted her coat off as Dave helped Terezi up.
“Well, I don't think they're going to try that way for a little while,” Terezi said, looking at the doorway, “Do you think that they're going to come in the back wa-”
They heard two explosions come up from the stairway going down.
They all looked at each other and ran down the stairs.
When Karkat got downstairs, Tavros, Rose, John, and Kanaya were already waiting behind some overturned tables.
“Is everyone, uh, okay?” Tavros asked.
“Yeah, fine. Three Felt are down,” Karkat said, “That still leaves ten, so don't fucking let your guard down.”
Jade, Sollux, Equius, Nepeta, and Karkat all leaned down next to the rest of the gang behind the cover of the tables.
“All quiet here?” Karkat asked.
“Not a sound,” Kanaya said nervously. She held her pistol like it was going to bite her. Kanaya sat very close to Rose, who handled hers with a bit more ease.
“Well, we kicked their asses up there. Fuckers are probably going to try the back do-”
There was a muffled boom from upstairs.
“What the fuck was that?” Karkat shouted, looking at the ceiling.
They waited for some other sound. After a second, they heard talking again, to their relief.
“I repeat, what the fuck was that?”
“It almost sounded like a...” Rose started.
“Grenade!” Tavros shouted.
“Get down!” He said as he pushed himself out of his chair and hid under the tables.
Two grenades bounced down the back ramp.
The whole gang dove to the floor behind the tables.
The two explosions actually moved some of the tables around, breaking up their cover. Equius took a piece of shrapnel in the leg, and Nepeta had a table smash into her head.
“Nepeta!” Equius tried to get up, but he winced and dropped to one knee.
Matchsticks, Crowbar, Die, Quarters, and Snowman walked down the ramp.
Karkat looked at Kanaya and Rose.
“Get those two out of here!” He said to them, gesturing to a small door near the storage room. Rose helped Equius up and Kanaya, deceptively strong for her lean frame, actually lifted Nepeta up over her shoulder.
The Felt leveled their weapons, taking aim at the injured trolls and their helpers
Karkat lifted his pistol and shot at Snowman. She jerked and fell over backwards as a bullet slammed into her chest.
They all looked down at her.
She started to sit back up. Her vest held.
“I'm fine, you idiots! Get them!”
They turned and looked back at the trolls, but they were immediately scattered by automatic weapon fire. Dave was standing at the top of the stairs, holding a Tommy gun.
“A hundred bullets, Strider, and you manage to miss with every one,” Vriska said dryly as she leveled her B.A.R.
“Thought I'd give them a fighting chance,” Dave deadpanned.
She saw Snowman getting back to her feet after being shot. Armor, huh?
“Hey! Eight-ball!” Vriska shouted. Snowman looked up at her, “Let's see your armor stop this!”
Vriska squeezed the trigger. Her gun roared to life and twenty finger-sized brass shells clattered to the ground. She looked on with satisfaction as Snowman jerked several times and collapsed to the ground again.
Rose managed to get the door open and guided Equius through. Kanaya ducked behind her and a couple of shots hit the open door.
The Felt who had stuck his head up to take the shots, Matchsticks, was quickly taken down by John.
Crowbar looked over at Snowman, she was turning over on her stomach, trying to get into a position where she could get back up. Crowbar made a note to get a suit of that armor.
“Cover me!” He shouted. Quarters popped up and unloaded another drum of Tommy gun fire. Crowbar ran out, grabbed Snowman under her arms, and hauled her to her feet. She winced and limped over to the rest of them.
“Broken ribs,” She gasped. They could see blood coming out from under her armor, as well.
“We're losing, boss,” Die said as they ducked down behind a row of tables near the far end of the bar. Snowman looked over to one of the bottles of liquor that had been scattered in the explosion.
She felt her pockets for her lighter.
Trace had entered through the now-destroyed doorway upstairs. Close behind him followed Eggs and Stitches.
“Anyone here you can help?” Eggs asked Stitches.
“Cans, maybe. The rest are gone,” He sighed. He walked over to Cans and inspected the damage.
Trace looked up at the ceiling.
“There's someone on the second floor,” He said quietly. No one asked how he knew.
“Go take care of 'em then,” Stitches said, “We can join the rest after.”
Trace nodded and started up the stairs with Eggs behind him.
They drew their guns and went door to door, opening them carefully and looking inside. Finally, they came to Gamzee's room. This one was locked. Trace shot the lock off the door and pushed it open. Inside, Gamzee was kneeling in front of the cross, quiet.
“Who the fuck are you?” Trace asked.
Gamzee didn't move. He didn't say anything.
Trace and Eggs looked at each other. Eggs walked over to Gamzee and put the gun against the back of his head.
Gamzee didn't move.
“Not afraid to die, troll?”
Gamzee leaned forward and reverently put his hands around the base of the cross.
“The Lord will protect me,” He whispered calmly.
Gamzee whipped around, cross in hand, and smashed Eggs in the side of the head before Eggs could even react. One of the arms of the cross sank deep into his skull.
“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you,” Gamzee said in a loud, clear voice.
Trace blinked and lifted his gun. Gamzee was faster. He pulled up the cross, still covered in blood and gray matter, and smacked the gun out of Trace's hand. He swung again and clipped Traced on the head, knocking him backwards.
“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”
Gamzee leaned down and straddled the prone Felt. He grabbed Trace's throat with his free hand and pressed him against the ground. Trace grabbed his arm and tried to pry him off, but Gamzee's grip was like iron.
“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape,” Gamzee went on, mesmerized.
Trace looked up at him. Gamzee had the eyes of a mad thing.
“Who...” He gasped.
Gamzee lifted the heavy, brass cross and brought it down with a wet thud. Trace screamed and tried to claw at Gamzee's face, hoping to catch his eye or something. Anything to get him to let go. Gamzee didn't even notice the scratches. He lifted it again.
Again the cross came down. Trace's struggles slowed, and then stopped.