Going Up the Tower
The big night was here. Wesley and I stood outside of the LaCroix Towers. Twenty-five stories were pointing into the night sky. LaCroix had his haven on the twenty-fourth and twenty-fifth stories. The twentieth, twenty-first, and twenty-second had been gutted and were being remodeled. How did we know this? Bertram and Mercurio had not only provided us with ammunition and blood packs, but had given us building plans. Not only did they give us the plans, but they also gave us who occupied each floor and what they were doing there. Knowledge is power.
Bertram had provided us with some other information as well. He gave us the location of the main elevators, the freight elevators (along the rear), and the stairwells. He also gave us a map, showing us a tunnel. It contained the electrical and communications wiring for the building. He showed us where to enter the tunnel, on a side street through a manhole, and where to exit. Our exit would bring us into a maintenance room right next to the freight elevators. Wesley and I hit Mercurio for supplies, namely ammo for our McCluskey"s and shotguns and some nice, smooth oaken stakes. Next we picked a nice, dark, cloudy night, headed downtown, found our manhole, entered the tunnel, and moved to the LaCroix Towers.
Wesley and I popped out of the maintenance room and looked around. No sign of anyone or anything. On our right were the four freight elevators. On our left and right were the rear stairwells. There were two stairwells at the front of the building. Our advance would be simple. We would move up the stairwells, cutting across floors every three or four levels and changing stairs. We had picked floors that had offices for law firms, financial services, and such, as they would be most likely to be empty at this time of night. When we got to the twentieth, the first gutted floor, we would enter and see what was happening. We did not have any idea how powerful the prince"s enforcer would be, but I had a gut feeling that he would not attack in a stairwell. He was large, and needed room to move. Well, maybe it was not a gut feeling. Maybe it was my Malkavian side tweaking me.
Everything went smoothly. On one floor, we found some security guards, and were able to sneak past them. Hell, we were vampires. On another, we found a bunch of lawyers working late. They looked at us, we waved, they waved back, and we proceeded to the next staircase. It was when we exited the staircase, on the twentieth floor, that we hit our first obstacle.
There were seven ghouls on the floor, all armed with shotguns. And they were all mercenaries with full body armor. This was a tough break. I used trance, and we started taking them piecemeal, Wesley slicing and dicing with his katana. I also fed. We had made pretty good progress when the final three detected us. Two of them charged, and we had to make a fight of it. I had hit the third with trance, and that must have been my Malkavian at work. But I"ll come back to that.
Our guns were pretty much useless against their body armor. I used trance on mine, and cut him with my katana. Then I fed. Wesley had discovered another power that he did not know he had. It is a power all Brujahs possess. It is Celerity. Lightening speed. The ghoul was no match. Wesley sliced his neck to ribbons and then we moved on the guy I had tranced.
Here we had a problem. His vest was loaded with C-4, and he was wired. We dared not touch him.
"What do you know about explosives, Wesley?"
"Next to nothing," he said. "The timer hasn"t been activated. I can see that. But it may be booby-trapped. We touch it, and boom. Or maybe boom when the guy wakes up."
"Let"s wake him," I said. "It would have blown when he moved if it was motion wired. Let"s see what he can tell us."
Wesley gently tapped the guy on the shoulder, and he came out of his trance.
"Jesus H. Christ!" he screamed. "You two are supposed to be dead!"
"Talk to us," I said. The man had no idea that we were vampires. "Tell us what is going on."
"I"m a merc," he said. "LaCroix hired me. He said you two would try to sneak up the building to kill him. He said his guards in the lobby would take you out. If they didn"t the other mercs here would. I was the last resort, with this C-4 vest. But you got past the guards and the other mercs! Why in the hell did I agree to wear this fucking thing?"
I knew why. It was vampire will, pure and simple. LaCroix had willed the man into putting it on, and to blow himself up if he encountered us. My trance must have wiped his brain free of LaCroix"s commands.
"How"s this damned contraption work?" I asked.
"See this red button?" the man said. "You two get too close, and I push it. Boom. You die, and I die. But LaCroix assured me you would not get this far. That rat bastard liar!"
"How does the timer work?" Wesley asked.
"You thinking what I"m thinking?" I asked. Wesley smiled.
"It"s simple," the guy said. "It"s just a basic digital stopwatch. You set the time with the buttons and it counts down. When it hits zero, it sends a pulse to the switch and activates it. Current flows from the batteries to the C-4 and boom! You have a nice explosion. One thing about C-4: it is easy to set off."
Wesley and I went to work. We got the body of a dead merc, and put the C-4 on him. The living merc, quite scared, was only too willing to work with us. He rigged the vest so that it would not fall off of the dead man even if he were bounced around. He showed me how to set the timer. Then he told us to be two floors away when it blew.
"Okay," Wesley said. "You helped us, so we are going to help you. See that elevator over there? You get on it, and take it all the way to the basement. Next you get out of the building and as far away as you can. Got it?"
The merc needed no encouragement. We waited until the merc was a few floors down, and put our dead guy, complete with C-4, on another elevator.
"How much time?" I asked Wesley.
"Ninety seconds. We send it to twenty-two. Then we take the stairs up."
We tripped the timer and sent the elevator on its way. Next we ran to a stairwell. When the C-4 went off, we heard a dull thump. The stairwell shook a bit. Then we charged up to twenty-two. When we hit the floor, we saw two blown out windows, a bunch of dead and badly hurt mercs, and two stunned vampires. We made short work of them. We went back to the stairs and decided to make a run for twenty-four.
When we got to the twenty-fourth floor, we found ourselves in a large, luxurious lobby. A large sign said "LaCroix Foundation." A small balcony ran around the floor, with doors on it. We guessed that that was twenty-five. There were two sets of stairs leading to the balcony. And there, waiting for us, stood LaCroix"s enforcer, complete with that damned oversized meat cleaver.