Victoria waited until the men had passed, then fished out her newly purchased gas mask and hastily put it on. She brought out her grenade launcher and aimed carefully. She fired a tear gas grenade that rattled to a stop and exploded in the middle of the group, making most of the men stop and try to cover their faces with their coats to block out the tear gas.
The book-carrying man and five of his escorts ignored the gas and ran for a set of metal double doors on the other side of the room, leaving her to deal with the remaining enemies. The other six coughed and fought watering eyes to try and aim pistols at their pursuer. They fired wildly as Victoria brought out her collapsible baton and began battering them into unconsciousness one by one. She took three more slugs to the Azure Armor but was otherwise unhurt. The other men were firing wildly as she approached, trying to buy time for their colleague to get the books to safety or destroy them all.
Victoria brought out her sniper rifle and began returning fire. She knocked out one of the gunmen before the door opened and the remaining men ran inside. Victoria pulled out her rocket launcher and fired another rocket at the door's hinges. She blew the right door off the hinges and it fell to one side, showing a room full of gunmen who opened up on her with automatic weapons. Getting the books was going to be tough because the Corlones knew they had been cornered and were fighting back with everything they had.
She dropped to a knee and aimed the grenade launcher to fire another tear gas grenade inside of the room when she took three slugs to the chest and was knocked backward. The grenade went far off the mark and landed in the corner where the left door met the frame, spewing its fumes in a way where little of it seeped through the open right door. To her considerable surprise three of the man had wrapped their jackets around their faces and ran through the gas with guns blazing
"If she gets the books, we're all dead! DON'T LET HER THROUGH!" One of the men bellowed in a grim reminder of what was at stake.
"We're not surrendering! Not to her, not to the police!" Another shouted. They fired at the brunette, forcing her to retreat and take cover near a wall with. More of the men poured out until she was facing down ten desperate and determined gunmen with nothing left to lose. They swiftly began to work in teams; some used suppressing fire to keep her from firing while others advanced on the pinned-down mage to close in for the kill. Victoria could feel their desperation as she fired a bean bag round directly into a man's face and his teammates rushed to close the distance.
The mage threw a Flashbang and one of the men quickly kicked it to the side before it went off. She dropped the grenade launcher and fired a Hand Cannon to knock one down but was set upon by the remaining three, who grabbed her arms and forced a close-range confrontation. She broke free and slugged one in the face, then stomped on the foot of another and headbutted the last before being hit in the back of the head with a submachine gun butt. She rolled over and fired a Derringer that hit in the forehead and knocked one out but was swarmed by the remaining seven and beaten down with fists and submachine gun butts until she went unconscious.
-In an unknown room-
Victoria woke up in a large square room lit by lanterns to find her hands cuffed in front of her and her armor, gas mask, bandolier, and backpack missing. In front of her were twenty angry men with automatic weapons. Her left eye was swollen shut and her bottom lip was bleeding. Her face felt like she went a dozen rounds with a boxing champion. With her one good eye she spotted the man with the books huddled in the corner.
"You've caused us a lot of trouble, kid. Now you're our only hostage. You're gonna get us out of here and when you do, you'll get a bullet to the back of the head!" One of the men, a man with a black buzzcut, informed her of what was in store for her. Victoria had to get out of here fast. But how?
She was facing down a lot of men with nothing left to lose. She did not have her armor for protection anymore. She could not even use her weapons.
What she did have was her shadow power. It was her ace in the hole and her way out of this mess. While the men watched her and argued about whether to shoot her now or hold her as a hostage and negotiate a way out, she began to activate her power. She fell onto her stomach and groaned to distract them from what she was actually doing.
"She'll have worse problems than a stomachache in a few minutes!" One of them joked, miming shooting someone with a gun. His partners laughed at the joke. The brunette was not amused, but she was working on her exit plan. The shadows made by the lamps began to twist and bend to her will. The bookkeeper was the only one to notice that something was amiss and raised an alarm that fell on deaf ears.
"Something's going on with the shadows. Why are the lamps acting funny?" The brown-haired bookkeeper asked his protectors. They looked at the lamps and did not notice anything amiss.
"Fredo's just paranoid. It's not like she can actually use shadows against us!" One of the men dismissed it. Victoria fought to keep from laughing. If only they knew how wrong they were. Her hands were glowing purple and the power was ready to use. She faced them and began moving the shadows to be within grabbing range of their weapons... soon she would make her move.
One of the men strode towards her and pointed his submachine gun at her head.
"I say we kill her now and fight our way out. There's still time!" A man with a scarred left cheek argued.
"No! She's the only leverage we have left! If we kill her, we're screwed!" Another argued back. Victoria did nothing to stop them from arguing because the infighting made her escape easier. She rose to her knees and made the shadows under her control seize their weapons.
Victoria was not going to gloat. She was not going to make snappy one-liners. She would simply beat them down and take the books, thus ruining their organization forever.
"What the hell?!" A guard asked as his submachine gun was taken away from him. Moments later all the weapons were taken away from their surprised owners as the brunette used a shadow to free herself by cutting the middle of the handcuffs. Now was the time to strike back.
Victoria's eyes glowed purple as the shadow hands smashed the barrels of the weapons against the stone walls, rendering them useless as anything other than paperweights. She then directed the hands to lift the criminals into the air and punch them until they went unconscious. The sound of twenty men being beaten filled the air as Victoria strode past the forest of purple shadowy arms and towards the bookkeeper. The bookkeeper hugged his books tightly as the angry mage approached. Victoria was not going to let him get away this time... she would take the books by force if she had to.
He stood up and frantically looked for a way out when she was within arm's reach. Finding no way out and seeing his protectors unable to help him, the sweating man slumped back down against the wall. He was clearly resigned to death.
"I want those books." Victoria said with an edge of anger, her glowing eyes meeting his wide brown eyes. The frightened man handed them over without a fight.
"Take them! JUST TAKE THEM!" He yelled, flinging the books at her. Victoria took all seven books and began to thumb through them to make sure there were no omissions or missing pages. She did not find anything missing, but she would take them to the police, who knew exactly what to look for. The bookkeeper simply sat in the corner and waited his turn to be pummeled, but she simply walked away and opened the room's door. Waiting outside for her were the police.
-Outside the room-
Victoria stood in place and let the officers with weapons drawn approach. She did not make any moves so she did not get killed right after completing her goal.
"She's the Black Rose kid! Don't shoot!" An officer shouted. The officers lowered their weapons and an older officer approached with two younger ones at his side. One of them was the same officer from the gate, the same one who had helped her escape Rose Garden.
"Here's the ledgers. They should have everything you need to nail the Corlones to the wall." Victoria handed the ledgers off to an older black-haired officer with glasses and a thin handlebar mustache. The officer began to thumb through them and looked up at the beat-up brunette.
"I can't believe you recovered all of these intact! I thought they'd have been burned!" He said in astonishment.
"Me too. It was a race against time the whole way. They didn't give them up without a fight." She replied.
"I'd say. Good work saving all the captives, kid. We've got ledgers filled with details about laundered money, payments to hitmen, even the names of slavers who did business with the Corlones. They're really in for some trouble thanks to you!" The older officer told her.
"It's the least I can do. I'm glad the captives are all OK." Victoria replied, using her Medical Bag healing spell to heal herself enough to stand up straight and see out of her left eye.
"Their combined testimony will only dig a deeper grave for the Corlones." The younger officer from earlier informed the Sabertooth mage. Another team of officers was going into the room behind Victoria to round up the unconscious Corlone henchmen. The bookkeeper was led out in handcuffs while the unconscious men were simply handcuffed and carried away.
"It's a shame that Black Rose disbanded. You did some work that'd do them credit. Rose Garden will be a lot safer now that the Corlones are going to be taken off the streets." Another officer chimed in.
"I'm with Sabertooth now. They don't back down when it comes to protecting the innocent." Victoria affirmed her new allegiance.
"Black Rose, Sabertooth. It doesn't matter, kid. Those guilds should count themselves lucky to have you." The older officer complimented her. Another officer walked up with her armor, backpack, bandolier, and gas mask.
"I believe these belong to you, kid." The red-haired man said before handing them over. Victoria took them back and re-equipped herself with the items. She put the mask back into the pack.
"Thanks. What do I do from here?" Victoria asked him.
"You've more than done your share. Go home and read the papers. You'll get to see the results of your work real soon!" He answered with a smile. Victoria bade her goodbyes and started the long walk home.
[Word Count: 1,925]
[Total Word Count: 5340/4,000]