Gambit

“I’ll survive,” Coop honestly answered. “Serving time in the Middle East together and neither of us were even grazed. We come back to the States, not even on a case, and he’s...” Coop couldn’t bring himself to say it.

“I need answers,” he bitterly confirmed. “I need fucking answers as to why my best friend was killed! I didn’t even have close friends like Daniel when I was growing up in the hood.” He teared up again. “I just need answers.” Coop sat down, placing his head in his hands.

Allison squeezed his shoulder reassuringly and looked to the unconscious stranger in the bed. "We'll figure this out. I promise, Coop." Then her phone let out a loud ping and she found a text from Jackson.

“Just checking to make sure you are okay. Need help with anything...call!”

She replied with: Will do if I need to. Thanks. A part of her wanted to just tell him to come to the hospital. If only because it'd make her feel better to see him and have him around at the moment. But she decided against it.

Then a voice spoke up from the door. It was the strange man's doctor.

---

Dr. Ira Cane had heard about the shootout, heard the description of the man they brought in and knew immediately who it was. Simon was a client of his, a loyal and high-paying one, so when he heard that he'd be at the hospital Ira worked at he dropped everything he was doing to look in on him and help however he can. He saw that the town's new sheriff and some guy in an outfit that screamed "federal agent" were already in the room.

It wasn't going to be easy getting Simon out of here. "Excuse me, Sheriff." He said as he entered the room. "I'll have to ask you to leave and let this patient get some rest." He went over to Simon's bed and checked his chart. A hole in the leg, no major arteries severed, luckily, and a graze on his temple from a bullet. Simon was lucky... Ira looked to the visibly angry Sheriff and agent.

Well he was lucky to be alive for the time being at the very least.

"I need to know why this man was attacked by a hit squad led by the head of the Castagnacci crime family." Allison said.

"Then go ask Mr. Castagnacci." Ira told her. "You arrested him too, I hear. Why not ask him?"

Allison already didn't like this doctor. "He's still being processed, and by the time I'm able to question him his lawyers will be swarming the place. I'd rather talk to this man. I have other questions he may only be able to answer."

"Well, sadly, Sheriff... err..." Ira glanced at her badge. "Newport. This man is still..." He glanced to Simon and saw the man shut his eye quickly. "Unconscious. So you'll be waiting either way. So... please..." He gestured to the door.

Allison looked to Coop and gently grabbed his wrist to usher him out of the room. "Come on, Coop, we've got a lot of work to do..."

After the two of them left Ira shut the door and looked to Simon. "You're in deep shit, you know that?"

"Tell me about it." Simon said, his voice somewhat rough. "Vaughan sold me out to Castagnacci."

Ira nodded at this. "Seems like Vaughan's trying to save his own neck, I had to treat some severed fingers Milo gave him not too long ago."

"So what's going on?" Simon asked. "What's the situation? I know the cops want to talk to me."

"They caught Milo trying to take you out, it blew up into a major firefight. He's in jail, but I'm sure his family's lawyers are already working to spin some sort of nonsense. Though whether or not it sticks is anybody's guess, apparently a fed got killed."

Simon shook his head in disbelief. "All over little 'ol me? I'm shocked."

"You did kill Milo's father." Ira pointed out.

"I'm a hired gun. Ortiz ordered the hit. You don't smash the gun that killed your pa, you kill the guy who pulled the trigger." Simon said.

"Milo doesn't see it that way."

"Bettin' he'll try for me again if he can. I need to disappear, fast."

"I don't think you'll be going anywhere anytime soon. Not with half the cops in the town here." Ira pointed out.

"I've had to slip in and out of tighter places." Simon said as he threw off his sheets and prepared to get out of bed. However, he stopped when a bolt of pain went through is injured leg. "I didn't have a hole in my leg then, however."

"It's not as bad as it could've been," Ira told him. "Though I wouldn't try running around on it."

Simon sighed. "Please tell me you have a plan for gettin' me outta here?"

Ira's brow furred. "I'm working on one, but for now just stay in bed and get some rest. Okay?"

Simon replaced the bed sheets and laid back down. "You're the doc."

Ira left Simon alone as he pretended to be asleep. He wasn't sure how he was gonna get Simon out of here, not one clue.

---

She looked up at him and tried to smile. "um yeah im fine.. Just... I think... Um there was a shoot out. " she said and akward giggle escaped her.

Gus's eyes widened in surprise. "A shootout? You okay? What happened?"

---

Jessica descended into the mine shaft, her helmet light illuminating the dark space as she slowly lowered herself via the rope secured up top where Freddy resided.

"You doing good?" Freddy asked, his voice echoing down to her.

"Peachy." Jessica said as she looked down into the chasm below. She could make out the faint image of a wrecked car down below. "I see that car you talked about."

"Yippie." Freddy uttered in a deadpan tone.

Jessica soon reached the bottom of the shaft and her heart sank immediately as she found the obvious remains of her brother resting in the corner by the car. The long silence as she fought to hold back her tears and mourn her brother prompted a worried call from Freddy.

"You okay down there?" Freddy asked.

"I found my brother." Jessica said, her voice breaking slightly as she approached the decaying corpse. Oddly enough, it didn't smell. The skin was dry and peeling and his eyes were missing. Yet no visible wounds were present. She spied his cellphone which was on top of a small piece of parchment which read: Deliver to my sister, Jessica.

She picked up the phone, its battery was long dead. Still, she slipped the phone into her pocket and started to look around. Why had he not been able to get back up? The coiled rope near the rear of the wrecked car was the answer, she could see the spot where it had been severed.

So he'd been murdered.

A fire began to grow in her stomach. The mayor knew something, he had to have been part of whatever was going on here. She went back to her rope and was prepared to climb when she stopped. Something had caught her attention from the corner of her eye. She looked back to the car and saw that it had embedded itself in some sort of strange stone masonry. She drew closer to one of the more intact pieces and saw that it had some strange markings she wasn't able to decipher.

She picked up a piece and looked it over, and a strange feeling like someone had rubbed a balloon on her head to make her hair stand on end came over her. She wanted to drop the piece of stone masonry but decided against it and dropped it into another one of the pockets on her climbing suit. Then she finally ascended and reunited with Freddy.

"My brother was murdered." She told him with absolute certainty, showing him the severed length of rope. "And that bastard mayor knows something."

"Dammit..." Freddy was hoping this would be a simple case. Now it seemed like he was on the cusp of discovering some sort of major coverup, but for what?

"Also found this." Jessica produced the strange stone piece and handed it to Freddy. "The car smashed into it on its way down, I think. Dunno what it is, or what those markings are."

Freddy felt the same eerie feeling course through him when he touched the stone piece. "Might be something for my buddy Gus to look at."

Jessica agreed, despite not believing in the supernatural it was Gus who had managed to lead her to her brother. "What about my brother's remains?"

"I don't feel comfortable calling the authorities in on this." Freddy told her, pocketing the strange stone as he did. "Sadly he'll have to stay down there until we can get someone trustworthy to recover him. I hope that's okay."

Jessica nodded. "I understand. I don't like this. I think I need to call in my partners and try and start a major investigation on that mayor of yours and what's going on in this town."

"He ain't my mayor, I didn't vote for him." Freddy smirked. "Come on, let's get out of here. This mine is giving me the creeps..."

As Freddy and Jessica stepped out of the cave a gunshot rang out and a round nearly hit Freddy. He pulled Jessica down and the two hid behind a near century-old mining cart that had been left to rust in the sun. Another shot ricocheted off some nearby rocks.

"Who the hell could that be?" Jessica asked.

"My guess? One of Baker's lackeys. Probably came to confirm our story about the car in the mine." He produced his .38. "Stay low. I don't think this guy intends for us to leave this place alive."

Jessica suddenly felt a cold fear run through her veins, yet she was reminded of her brother this helped steady her. The anger would keep her alive. "I suppose you don't have another gun?" She asked Freddy.

"No, but if we get out of here I'm definitely keeping at least three on me at all times." He poked his head up from behind the cart and spotted a sedan parked behind their car, a man who looked like an off-duty police officer (Freddy assumed this because he was wielding a police-issue handgun) was situated behind the driver's side car, using it as cover and to steady his aim.

"Come out now!" The man shouted. "There's nowhere to run!"

"Why don't you go ahead and tell us your evil plan before you kill us and bury us in a shallow grave out here?" Freddy chided as he fired a couple shots in the man's direction. They were more to probe to see how he'd react, and he did by returning fire. Three shots. All of them struck the cart they were behind.

"What do you think this is? A Saturday morning cartoon?" The man asked.

"Trust me, I've seen things that make me wonder..." Freddy said, being absolutely honest with him.

"We already know about Mayor Baker!" Jessica said. "How he lied about searching for my brother in this mine, and that my brother was murdered in there. I'm an attorney working with one of the most powerful firms in the country. What do you think will happen if I turn up missing too?"

"You won't." The man said. "You'll be found dead in this desert, you were so obsessed in finding your brother you became reckless and died out there."

"Yet how will you explain the pullet holes?" Jessica shouted.

"She's got you there, punk!" Freddy said. "Death from dehydration isn't usually caused by poking holes in people."

"You're a known criminal with ties to the mob. It'd be easy to pin the murder on you. And then you disappeared to escape justice." The man said. "Huh... I guess I did tell you my 'evil plan' after all..."

Freddy rolled his eyes. "It always comes back to my checkered past, doesn't it? I make a few bad choices and now I'm irredeemable..." Then he spotted a rock on the ground next to his foot and had an idea that might work... "Though... I do have to admit... life in the mob did provide some privileges. Like the access to various weapons no ordinary person could get their hands on. He grabbed the rock, stood up from behind cover, fired a couple more rounds in the man's general direction, and then hurled the rock at him like one would a grenade. "Bombs away!"

The man let out a shout of surprise and dove away from his car as the rock bounced off of its roof with a loud thud. The man put his hands over his ears and waited for the explosion that would never come. By the time he realized his error, Freddy had his gun trained on him.

"Drop the gun, dumb ass." Freddy said. The man complied, the look on his face looked as if he wished Freddy would shoot him just to end the humiliation.

Jessica stepped out from behind the mining equipment and shook her head as she picked up the man's gun. "Guess you can't get good help these days..."

Freddy kicked the man in the gut just to make himself feel better and then hauled him up to his feet. "Alright, buster. Spill it. What do you know about all this?"

"You're dealing with things that you don't understand." The man said.

"I've heard that one before." Freddy said as he pulled out the stone. "Guess you mean whatever the hell this is? Lemme guess? Alien technology? It's giving me a tingly feeling in places only my favorite girl Candi can typically manage. Is that what it is? Who you working for? The Vogons? Shuntypaaktap? Is this more of that Kakabel tech?"

"What the fuck are you blathering about?" The man said, genuinely confused.

"Yeah, what the hell, Freddy?" Jessica frowned. "Is everyone in this town a UFO nut?"

Freddy sighed. "Some are for good reason, trust me on that." Then he looked back to the man. "So spill it! I bet a grand that our kindly Mayor Baker is a tentacled horror from beyond the stars!"

The man looked to Jessica. "Could you please just shoot me so I don't have to keep hearing him talk?"

Freddy frowned. "So it isn't aliens? Then what the hell kind of conspiracy is this?"

"That stone is a piece of a seal meant to keep the spirits of a group dead miners trapped in that mine." The man said. "And it's broken... which means they're free."

Freddy and Jessica stood there, mouths agape.

(OOC: Apologies for taking forever to post. Work has been extremely rough this last couple weeks and I just haven't had the time or energy to write anything. I hope you all are doing well)

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