The two doctors led a very wobbly Faux-verlord suit across teh stone floor of the cave when a very startled Red looked up from her tablet.
“Jesus! Wait… Is that…”
“If you are about to say a damned handsome man, then yes. Woah!” The Orange Overlord suit stuck it’s arms out and bent at the hips and knees to stay upright.
Red smiled at Donnie. “So, you got it to work?”
“After a fashion. It’s still early, but a few things work. At this point, we’re just testing the exoskeleton.”
“I thought you said that would kill him.”
Lorenzo stepped in. “Yes, but we paralyzed him and made his muscles relax.”
Red raised an eyebrow to Donnie, who explained. “He’s like a ragdoll in there and the exoskeleton is getting input directly from his brain. It keeps him from struggling and getting whacked around by the suit.”
“And that’s going to keep him safe?”
“I think so. It’s really hard to tell. Theoretical limits of human endurance and all that. As long as we don’t get muscle or tendon tears, he should be good.” Donnie shook his head. “He’s liable to pull a lot of g’s in there though. I don’t even want to think about combat.”
Red gave Donnie a reassuring pat. “As long as he pulls off getting Ted walking out of prison, it’s all good.”
Donnie squinted and Red asked, “What?”
“Well, it’s just that… Why hasn’t Ted gotten himself out? Why hasn’t he used his power at all? He doesn’t have to do flashy, all he has to do is slip handcuffs or something. He knows the gig is up and hsi secret’s out. Why not bust himself out of jail?”
Red looked at the hesitant but moving overlord suit driven by Rog and guided by Lorenzo. “I’ve been wondering that very thing, Don. None of it makes sense. I talked to the girl he was having dinner with and she said a waiter whispered something to him that upset him and he went to the can. Next thing she knew, he and The Mad Bomber were at each other’s throats, tearing up the restaurant.”
Donnie nodded. “You find the waiter?”
“Why don’t you stick to your project? Hm?” Behind them they heard an exclamation, a teetering crash, and an expletive. “It seems like the suit has a few bugs to work out. Don’t worry, I’m working on this.” She walked off looking down at her tablet. “Nothing, no detail, escapes my notice.”
Wilson tried to ignore the other boys. He’d talked to them, tried to reason with them about their situation, show them that they were not in control here in the least. None of them believed him. They all, except Fred and one other, had insisted that they were tough and would somehow kick ass out of there. It was pointless. So, he ignored them.
Now though, he was done with his homework and had nothing but time to think. Bagsy was a tough guy for the boys, but at heart he was a manager. He would have done much better trying to manage a burger joint than his current situation. He just wasn’t much of a badass. Yes, he got angry, yes, he wanted things done his way and set up the systems, but shit, that’s what a manager does. He doesn’t bust down a door, guns blazing. It wasn’t in him. He was a boss, not a crime boss. And this meant that they were fucked. And Tony didn’t even factor into it, he was an assistant manager.
The guy who took them, Trevor, he was a different story. Trevor wanted to hurt people. The fact that they were currently unharmed meant that he had some other thought in mind. They were being used to play for power. What was it?
The obvious thing was money. With all of them locked up in here, Bagsy wasn’t making a dime. In fact, he had lost everyone’s stash when they were picked up. All of that capitol wasn’t good to loose, but Bagsy had been a good manager and Wilson was certain that he’d squirreled away his money and hadn’t spent it. the man was boring, what the hell was he going to spend all that on and not have it be obvious? He probably bought a modest house in the suburb with it or something.
But Bagsy liked money. It was his primary motivation, that and not getting caught. Now there Wilson had something to grab on. Bagsy wouldn’t move on his own. He’d call in to the Orange Overlord, however that worked. And if the Orange Overlord was actually gone, then what?
And what was the relationship between Trevor and Bagsy? They weren’t rivals. The rivals to Bagsy’s drug runners were the neighboring drug runners. And all those guys were kept in check by … Agreements with the Orange Overlord. Trevor wasn’t a rival because he was in a different business but the only reason he was in that business was because of his agreement with the orange overlord. Now that the Big O was gone…
Ok, so what does that do to him and his? Does that mean that Trevor was going to wipe them out? Was Trevor going to come and kill Bagsy?
Trevor is a bastard and a sadist. But, he’s not completely stupid and hadn’t been so far. Their gang was the dumb muscle. The few times he’d crossed paths with them had been when they bought his stuff and none of those guys had impressed him as very smart. They were smash and grab men. And they were men, not boys like Wilson and his crew.
So, what did this mean? We are a different type of workforce. Wilson puzzled. Rome. When Rome conquered a territory, it maybe wiped out the chiefs, but it spared most of the nobility, even bringing them back to Rome to become Romanized. They absorbed them.
Trevor wants to flip us. Or rather, he wants Bagsy to do something stupid so he can kill him, then flip us. Those of us who resist will be gone in that purge.
Wilson was certain of it. He could see it clearly.
He could also hear a fucking racket over by the door.
“Hey! What are you doing? Hey!” He put down his book and trotted over to the door and a couple of kids moved to block him.
“What are you doing?” He looked at the kids blocking him. “Get out of the way, dumbass, I’m right here and I can see him. What do you think you are hiding? Besides, I’m taller than you and can just look over your shoulder.”
Fred, who was bigger still, sidled up to Wilson. “Ya heard him. What’s going on?”
The kids at the door stopped and came over. “Shut up, Wilson! Pete’s trying to jimmy the door! His brother is a locksmith.”
“That’s fucking stupid. You are going to get us all killed.”
“What? You think there’s a bomb on it or something. We can hear the fools when they come to give out food and shit. Nobody’s here.”
Wilson nodded. “You are sure of that? You absolutely positive? Because if you aren’t, they aren’t going to be really happy with what you are doing. And didn’t I tell you that our job now is to be real fucking patient?”
“Yeah, and you are a book fed wimp.”
“Better that than a fool. Look, you are going to do one of two things to that lock. First, you are going to break it, which means no one can get in and they may just leave us here or two, you get out. So, what happens then? Do you have any idea where we are? Anyone know how to drive a car for real? A stolen car? Actually, we’d have to steal a bus given how many there are here. And we’ll have to do that while potentially the entire armed and way more serious than us gang is after our asses, and they may not be as kind to us as when the snatched us the first time.”
The boys looked at Wilson with suspicion, but they didn’t go back to the door knob.
“Look. I’ve been thinking. I know what we’re up against. We’re up against Trevor’s gang. They are making a powerplay for Bagsy’s entire business. ”
“What?” one boy said.
“Damn!” said another, wiping his head and face with his hand.
“Yes. That’s the only thing that makes sense and we are stuck right in the middle of it. And the only way we can stay safe is to be united.”
“Not bullshit. Solidarity. If you prefer, safety in numbers.”
“How you figure?”
Wilson shook his head. “Look, at the core of this, it’s a business issue. Up till now, the business has been controlled by the structure the big O set out, right? But he’s gone, and Trevor wants Bagsy’s turf. Only his dudes are dumber than rocks. They don’t know how to hustle.” He looked around at the faces. “We do. We understand how to do this. We know the customers, we know where the people are who will call the cops or worse, we know how to conduct ourselves.”
“So, what? What’s that give us?”
“A bargaining chip. A seat at the table. We come to Trevor with a combined workforce that he can use to run his new business without any problems, that is money to him. That’s a lack of headaches for him. That’s power. We’re in here and not in the morgue because Trevor, at some level, understands that.”
“So, we need to send him a message to tell him we understand that too. But it doesn’t mean shit unless we’re all in agreement.” He looked around. “Are we all in agreement?”
“What happens to Bagsy? Tony? The counting crew? the guards and suppliers and the bodega?”
“I do not know. I don’t know what others have in mind. And honestly, I can’t help them. I’m trying to help us get out of here. It sucks, but the king is dead, and the princes have decided to have a war of ascension. We gotta do our best to not get in it.”
“Whatever the fuck that means, but Ok. I’m in at least” Said the boy who was the most active at the door.
“Anyone not in?”
Silence filled the room.
“All right. Now I guess we send our note.”
Trevor sat at his bar. It was late night, and yet another day had gone on to squeeze Bagsy, without so much as a peep from him. Trevor was wondering if he’d hear anything from him. Maybe the wimp would just skip town, which would be fine by Trevor.
“Sir. I got a message for you!” The voice came from one of the guys he’d sent with fried chicken to the drug runners he was holding as bait for Bagsy and his fools. He hadn’t expected a message to come from him.
“Good,” he said, as if that was part of the plan. “Let me see it.”
The big man brought Trevor the folded piece of notebook paper and he smiled. It read:
From: The Organized Labor of the Snake Gang.
We are aware of your current attempts to take over management of the operations of our gang. We are writing to inform you that however that arrangement comes to be resolved we are here to continue to fulfil our employment contract. As such we do have some terms and some preferences. In return, however, you will be the beneficiaries of our knowledge base in working with the public and each other.
It is our fervent hope that you appreciate the need for a smooth continuity of operations even in a time of management turmoil and I implore you to act in good faith on our behalf just as we will act on good faith on yours.
To that end, we would like to remind you that we are children and if we are continually absent from our homes, law enforcement will be involved. This is in no way a threat, but it is an unpleasant situation for you, should we continue to be so incarcerated. To alleviate this issue, we will voluntarily suspend our work activities for the amount of time necessary to resolve the current conflict.
It is also our wish to avoid any harm to our employers, either present or future, in the time of transition. This is, again, something you can do as a sign of good faith. And an action that will seek to reduce the potential for police involvement.
We have elected a spokesman to speak on our behalf, one Wilson Yates. Please be assured that Mr. Yates speaks for the group in this matter.
We look forward to meeting with you. The sooner the better as this room is not well equipped for long term habitation by so many of us.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The Organized Labor of the Snake Gang.
Trevor looked at the note and snorted. “Wilson. I knew you were a clever boy.”