AN: Thanks for the review, Ayralis Sun!

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Chapter 3: Mafia

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The assaulter's grip tightens around your waist and throat. It's very difficult to breathe and your lungs are beginning to hurt. You frantically fling your arms and legs backwards, in an attempt to hurt your aggressor, the pain now burning like acid against the surface inside your lungs. Krew starts to fan himself, causing the sweat drops to cake on his pallid, oily skin.

"I just knew it was too easy to escape from the prison," Boss sighs somewhere to your left.

"You did, eh?" Krew grins and hovers to the source of Boss' voice. "Annette here is a pro, isn't she? Now get out," he shouts at her. She shrugs and walks past you.

"Treacherous wench," Boss spits at her.

"No hard feelings, darlin', I'm just doin'my job."

"Well, then," Krew grumbles after the door has closed behind her. "Where were we? Oh, yes! The name of your city."

"Why are you so interested in that?" Boss groans, without the usual hints of spite.

"Haven city is big, but not nearly big enough," Krew says, a glow of hunger growing in his eyes. "I want to expand my business, mmm! Before anything, are you from Kras city?"

Boss moans in annoyance. "No, we're not from Kras city, we're not from Spargus city, we're not from Haven city, we're not from this cursed place at all! Would you like me to write that down for you?"

"Cockiness won't do you any good here, hmm," Krew retorts. Suddenly he notices you and your desperate efforts of getting more air. "Let go of the boy's throat, Xen."

The brute called Xen loosens his clutch on your throat and instead clamps his hand over your mouth. White-hot jolts shoots from your face to the back of your skull, making your eyes water. Krew sighs.

"He is supposed to talk, Xen."

Hesitantly, Xen wraps his tattooed, muscled arm around your shoulders. You draw deep breaths of fresh air.

"What's your name, boy?"

"Let go of my boss!" you demand with a cracking voice. Krew laughs.

"Ah, a feisty one, eh? We'll soon take care of that, won't we?"

"Don't do him anything," Boss mutters and sighs deeply. "This isn't necessary. I'll tell you what you want to know… I can't guarantee you'll believe me, I hardly believe it myself…"

Suddenly, the bar door swooshes open. A man marches in, his arms, chest and legs well protected by chunky, rugged plates of steel. Two thick, deadly spikes protrude each of the shoulder pads, and it seems like he has lost his right eye, seeing that there is some sort of a goggle plunged into the socked where the eyeball should have been. He definitely doesn't look like the kind of guy you would want to mess with, you think to yourself, as he drums his fingers on the small, ruffled sack clutched in his hand. Krew's face lightens up.

"Sig, my boy! Your mission went well, eh?"

"Like a charm," Sig answers cheerfully and tilts his head as he is eyeing you up and down. "Who are those guys?"

"The newcomers," Krew replies with a somewhat bored facial expression. "Take redhead with you to the forest," he adds and motions towards you. Xen releases you, somewhat reluctantly, and you land painfully on your knees. Sig hauls you to your feet, and boy is he tall. You spin around to face your aggressor, and he is even taller. Grey tattoos are covering most of his massive body, as far as you can see at least. Your gaze moves to the one who is holding Boss; an exact replica of the brute who attacked you.

Identical twins?

They both grin at you. Sig roughly pulls you out of the bar, his eyes wandering skeptically over your figure. Still eyeballing you, he slowly lets go of your arm, as if he worries that you will immediately run away to jab scissors into electrical sockets, or something.

"Don't worry, kiddo, your friend is gonna be all right," he says eventually, as if he just read your mind. Taking your long, lingering stare on the bar door into consideration, reading your mind probably wouldn't have been necessary.

"He's my boss," you answer weakly, still with your eyes fixed at the door. "I'm his bodyguard. I'm not supposed to leave him, I'm supposed to stay with him and keep him safe. And… and no offense, but that man, Krew… he seems kinda… he doesn't seem very nice."

Sig suddenly bursts into laughter, the kind of hearty laughter Rambo would have if he was actually Santa Claus. "No, he isn't," Sig chuckles. "He went out of his way to get his hands on the two of you and he's not gonna hurt your boss, so long as he cooperates and doesn't get all smartmouthy."

That last sentence makes you cringe. Before you get the chance to voice your now very valid concerns, Sig appears much keener on getting along with business; "Seems like you're coming with me to the forest. But there's no way you're going dressed like that, the Krimzon guards will jump on you sooner than you can say 'police brutality'. I've got some threads prepped for you, cherry, so you won't have to worry about it. Are you familiar with firearms?"

You blink in perplexity. "Uh… uh, yeah… the kind we have back home."

"Hm," Sig mutters. "Well, wouldn't hurt you to get some shootin' practice anyway. Follow me, cherry."

He turns his back on you and leads the way. You quickly step as close to him as you can without touching him. Suddenly you feel incredibly overwhelmed. In the total time span for about a day or two, depending on the amount of time you were unconscious on the beach and in the cell, you have been sucked from your own world through a tube by a dude named Bob, grown yourself a pair of insane elf ears, knocked out cold, kidnapped, tortured during interrogation, knocked out cold again, been a part of a huge jailbreak, assaulted by the mafia man Krew and his men, and now you're apparently joining this sinister Sig person on some sort of a mission or something.

Wow.

Way too much.

You decide to not think too much about it for the time being, having to preserve your sanity and all, and try to focus on keeping Boss and yourself alive. You get abruptly pulled out of your thoughts as a red armored guard pops into your vision. You steer your gaze away from him, trying to avoid looking at him and catching his attention, but you can feel his scrutinizing eyes burning in the back of your skull, almost through your skin, as you pass by. To your relief, he doesn't say anything or come after you.

"In here," Sig says after a while, motioning with his arm towards a door. You follow him through it, balking as a bag of something soft is swiftly tossed at your face, barely managing to catch it before it hits you.

"Clothes," Sig explains. "Try them on."

You shrug, drop the bag, and start pulling your t-shirt over your head. As your head appears from under the shirt, your eyes meet the fairly stunned face of Sig.

"What?" you ask, unbuckling your belt. Sig turns his gaze away from you and fixes it on a brown spot on the wall just as you pull down your pants. "What, are you shy?"

"No," Sig replies, somewhat amused, "I just thought I'd let you have some privacy."

"I don't mind. If I could choose, I'd walk outside in my underwear."

"I suggest you don't do that."

"Okey-dokey."

Trying the clothes on proves soon to be easier said than done. The shirt is simple, made from a rough, white fabric, slightly resembling a tunica and reaching a few centimeters below your crotch. With it follows a practical belt with plenty of pockets and a gun holster. You wrap it around your hips, over the shirt and fasten it. The pants are form-fitting and made from a grey, elastic fabric. From there, you are supposed to try to pull on a pair of combat boots, gloves and a navy-blue vest with a dozen nonsensical buckles and leather straps each.

"Uh, Sig?" you say, almost pleadingly. "Help."

Sig turns around, his face cracking in a big grin at the sight of your helplessness. "Too complicated for ya?"

"This is stupid," you mutter in annoyance as you fumble with the buckles. "Haven't these people ever heard that less is more?"

"Nope. And you shouldn't throw around phrases like that. People who are interested in you will look for people who stick out like sore thumbs, so you oughtta fit in as much as you can."

"I'll try," you grumble. "But I won't like it." Suddenly, you remember the Krimzon guard who glared at you earlier. "Hey, Sig? On our way here, a guard stared at me, really intensely like. Do you think he recognized me?"

Sig frowns. "Did he do anything?"

"No. He just stared."

His frown dissolves in an expression of relief. "Well, then he didn't recognize you. Maybe he thought you were a troublemaker because of your funny outfit. As I said, chili pepper, you don't wanna stick out and draw attention to yourself in this city."

"Okay. If you say so."

Sig hesitates for a moment. "Looks like you've received a few punches."

"Yeah," you reply, quite happy with yourself having managed to put on the boots correctly. "Quite lucky that that Annette woman broke us out of there, or else I'd might have ended up with a few broken bones as well."

A sudden dry laughter emanating from Sig's throat makes you look up in surprise.

"Luck?" he says, raising a brow. "That wasn't luck, boy, that was a carefully planned out operation."

"Wait, what?"

"Do you honestly think that you got involved in a jailbreak a mere day after getting arrested, getting brought to Krew and to me, having a prepared set of clothes fitted to you, by a coincidence?"

You don't answer. Sig sighs. "By the precursors, you're naïve. As I said before, Krew went out of his way to get his hands on you, and that is no coincidence. He has a man on the inside, who reported about the arrival of two foreigners who, apparently, were quite oblivious of the existence of Haven. That sparked Krew's interest, and he ordered Annette and Jinx to get themselves arrested. Our man made sure that Annette ended up in the cell next to you, and that was lucky, though, because it was previously occupied by a guy who escaped a couple of days before on the day he was set to be terminated. Anyway, you know the rest of the story."

A chilling layer seems to wrap itself around your diaphragm. "What? What does he want with us?"

Sig shrugs. "Beats me. He at least wants to get to the place you came from."

"But… how? We don't even know how we got here."

"Well, that's gonna be a problem," Sig states simply. He turns on his heel, stepping towards a shelf with various weapons, none of which you manage to recognize. He hesitates for a long moment before he grabs one and faces you.

"Here," he says, reaching the weapon out to you, "try this one out."

You waver for an instant, then curl your fingers tentatively around the cold steel of the pistol. It feels strange in your hand. Shooting him a quizzical glance, you ask; "What do I need this for? Are we going to shoot someone?"

Sig chuckles. "Don't you worry your little head, cherry, it probably won't be necessary. We're just gonna set a deal, the gun is just in case anything happens."

"Oh. What kind of a deal?"

"You'll see."

In one swift movement, Sig pulls out a tiny, russet cube, his eyes narrowing into tiny cracks in his stony face upon focusing on it. "Shit. We're late. Real late. We gotta get moving!"

"Wait, I thought you brought me here for target practice?"

"No time. Come on!"

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With his back resting against the padded back of the bar-sofa, Nikita stares at the twins, his arms folded over his chest. The twins, Xen and Xinan as they are called, sit on the sofa opposite to him, gentle smiles plastered on their tattooed faces. Their expressions are somewhat peculiar, friendly and curious, seeming almost mesmerized at Nikita's appearance, their eyes flicking across his face and attire with great interest. They have been assigned by their superior to keep Nikita under observation and not let him escape while Krew is out on an errand.

Nikita clears his throat. "So… what exactly are you two doing for Krew?"

Their smiles grow wider, but they remain silent. Nikita raises a brow. "You're not really the talking types, huh?"

They tilt their heads in unison, their eyes suddenly riveting to a point above the bar counter. Nikita frowns and turns around, stretching his neck. The monitor in the bar is showing a young woman, apparently some kind of a news reporter judging by her attire and microphone, talking to the camera.

"… Riot at the Fortress, resulting in eight escaped prisoners," the woman says, her voice laced in gravity. "Two of them are said to be especially dangerous and mentally unstable, one young man in his twenties and another, older man in his early forties or late thirties. The younger man is described as having red hair, average to athletically built, dressed in grey and blue. The other has dark hair, two facial scars and dressed in black and white. The Krimzon Guard promises three whole months' supply of Eco for any information that leads to their capture…"

McKenzie isn't that young, Nikita thinks to himself. He has no idea what Eco is, but he reckons it must be of quite some value to the residents here due to the reporter's emphasis on the reward. He returns his gaze to the twins, flinching at their sudden change of expression. Their stare rests stiffly on the face of the reporter, even after she is through with talking about the Fortress. An unsettling quiver runs down Nikita's spine when they glance at each other and then at him, their faces lined with grimness. Nikita can feel his heart dropping several inches in his chest.

Oh, fuck.

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