Wall is up. Sorry, Titian16. I lost the file.

Nai was missing.

Crexe was kidnapped.

The Deck was in an uproar.

Six and Kyntak looked at each other.

"I'd appreciate you watching my back." Six said. His eyes never strayed from Kyntak's face.

Kyntak smiled. "Only if you watch mine."

"Deal. I'll let you know when we have the address."

Six's cell phone buzzed in his pocket.

"Let's go," said Kyntak.

Dust shrouded the floor and Six couldn't do anything about it. He pressed on, gun extended. Bodies lay scattered on the floor. They looked unconscious, as if sedated. It's either Kyntak or me, and I didn't do this. Kyntak's job was a clean one. They were disarmed and lay as if they were asleep. The roar of helicopters sliced through his thoughts. He grabbed the gun of the nearest soldier, an Eagle, and checked the magazine.

Whipping around, he saw the Twin nearing. It kicked up dust everywhere, sending clouds into his face. A whistling noise erupted though the air and a tranquilizer dart thudded into his neck. Six's brain only registered a second of pain before a sense of calm overtook him. The sedative began its work.

A net flew through the air. The weights were claws reaching for him. Six scrabbled to get away but his legs melted underneath him. The wall seemed to tilt and turn as he tumbled.

Plaster cracked and crumbled under his head, but there was no pain. Stars exploded around him and everything wavered like the space around a too hot flame. The net wobbled and shifted in his vision.

Six fell to his knees.

The Twin descended and grew close enough for Six to see the pilot. The helicopter was trying to land. The pilot started fiddling with his seatbelt. A chill overcame Six as his thoughts traveled further. It had all been a trap, an elegantly portrayed farce. They never wanted to crush the Deck.

They wanted him. And, he had taken the bait.

Six's instinct kicked in. If anything, he wanted to run, but his legs were made of lead. Six tried to use his arms to crawl away, but they didn't even support his weight. He felt his weight fall forward as he tried to crawl out from under the net.
The sound of the helicopter sounded farther away now. Six struggled to pick himself up.

A dark shadow passed over him.

He struggled against the arms that secured him. A dulled throb came from the other side of his neck. They hefted him over their shoulders. Six felt the four hands secure clasps on his wrists and ankles.

There was a muffled sound. It sounded like his name. His vision blurred and he barely registered getting thrown into the helicopter. The door closed and gunfire erupted. There was the sound of returned fire.

The Twin lifted into the air, blades slicing into the clouds. Winds picked up and Kyntak appeared out of the haze. He put his arms up against the wind and batted dust from his eyes as the helicopter took off.

Kyntak's scared face reached his eyes. Six's heart raced a bit. Kyntak. But, he couldn't move. A sound barely reached his ears as he strained to hear what came out of Kyntak's mouth. The words were lost to the wind. There was a brief second as Kyntak hurled a chunk of steel at them.
Six saw Kyntak vanish. He heard the end to the gun fire. The churning blades above his head seemed dulled. His vision blurred. If his muscles were complaining, they were being quiet about it. Everything disappeared.

And then, he saw and felt nothing

Kyntak cursed under his breath as the Twin vanished. He stared into the sky. Six was a great agent. He would be okay. Right? Somehow, it felt unlikely. The moment the Twin took Six, all the pieces came together into one large, and frankly uncomfortable puzzle. The whole thing was a set up, a huge, well-executed trap, and they walked right into it.

Only a moment later he noticed the thing sticking out of him. A dart.

He slumped.

Vision fading.

Balance slipping.

I remember this feeling, he thought with a grimace.

His stream of consciousness shut down as his head hit the concrete and plaster.

Ace of Diamonds wasn't looking at him. She tapped her fingers in a specific rhythm on her tablet computer. He remembered the time she showed him how to use the touch screen. She always used to say it was more digitized than paper and less bulky than a laptop.
Kyntak knew she didn't blame him. She would never blame him for something like this. She'd seen too many people who were gone and their teammates threw blame around. Really, there was no one to blame. Life ran its course.

Two was on a table nearby. A white cloth was laying over the body but Kyntak could imaging the funny fellow's smile. The happy memories they shared fell to the floor between them.

Six wasn't there either. Six was gone. Kyntak bit back a wave of regrets. I made that mistake. I should have watched where I was going. I should have been a better shot. I should have…

"How are the soldiers?"

She looked up from the report she was writing.

"Not well. They're still unconscious." Kyntak didn't know what to make of that. Still unconscious? I'm sure I didn't kill them. I should have. But that won't bring Six home. He looked over the file. This was a time to act like Six.

The reports were what she told him earlier. Nine millimeters for both but different guns. Post mortenm bruising for Two. Crexe had been dead in his cell and moved afterwards. There was a tattoo on Crexe's chest.

"Oh, that reminds me, the code you received was a time and place. King's upstairs looking at it." She looked at him with soft peridot eyes. "Six's a great agent. He'll be alright." Kyntak only nodded.

I hope so.

"Kyntak, I'm so glad you could join us." King was glaring at a computer screen like it was the devil itself. That brought up a few questions about whether or not he was religious. Questions that Kyntak was smart enough not to ask. He already blames me for Six. I can't mess this up.

"They still can't find him."

"The signal?"

"Dead." The computer filled the awkward silence with numbers. The browser window was opened to the site. The only thing on the black

screen was a set of six numbers.


Always numbers. He hated math in school.

King looked like someone had gone through his heart with a vacuum and sucked everything out. Kyntak stayed silent staring at the screen as he sat on the edge of the desk.

"Did you disable cookies?"

"Yes." King sounded like he was lecturing a child. "It was part of the new shipment to the Diamonds, if you were wondering. It's got nothing but ChaoOffice and a firewall Grysat rigged. Not that we'll need it. This isn't even hooked up to the Deck system yet."

"What if it's a bomb?" Kinglooked at him, finally.

He schooled his face. "We already have Diamonds searching. Besides, they wouldn't give us a count down." Oh, really? I tease prisoners for the fun of it. Why won't they?

"It could be them throwing us off," Kyntak offered.

"I'm not evacuating this building." King returned his gaze to the computer.

"What if more people die?" The words hung between them on a flapping clothes line. What. If. More. People. Die.

"There is no bomb. The person who rigged this was smart. Smarter than ChaoSonic. Smarter than Deck. He wiped the floor with our Hearts and proceeded to kidnap Six. Really, I think you are the only person who got out of this unscathed!"

King glared at him through hemorrhaged veins. Kyntak stood his ground but felt something wilt inside. King was frustrated. His son was gone. Kyntak knew exactly how it felt. He worried more over Six than the Deck combined. Six who was drugged. Six who was gone. And it's my fault.


King shrunk back. "I'm sorry. I lost my temper. There was nothing you could do about the situation."

"There were a million things I could have done."

"No. There was one. That was letting them take you. And Six would be the one here worrying over whether you were alive. That would be much worse."



"He would have ordered me to evacuate the building and start a city wide sweep."

"I thought you were already doing the sweep."

"Exactly." Forgiveness was a long ways away, but they would get there.

A thought occurred to Kyntak. "Can we record this?"

"We are. Grysat set it up. But, who knows it may have a copyright filter." King let a weak smile take his face. It was meant to be reassuring. It failed. "We're both jumpy."


"We both have had a rough day."


Kyntak felt a pain rise in his chest. No bomb. No Six. He couldn't stand the anticipation.


He closed his eyes imagining the face of his best friend. Kyntak opened them in time to see the numbers.





Kyntak's vision went blurry as he saw the screen hit zero and went dead.

Nothing. Nothing happened. Kyntak expected an explosion. An evil chuckle. A voice over saying, "Game over". Something. And he got nothing.

The anticlimax blew him out of the water more than a climax. And it hit him like a brick.

"The bomb is…"

"Somewhere else," King finished. They looked at each other. "I'll call the Diamonds."

The screen flickered back to life. What they saw drove as chill down their bones.

They saw a dimly lit figure. It was a man. His head was shaved and his clothes were dirty. He was bloody and bruised, tied down to a chair.

There was another person, a woman. They looked horribly out of place against the mortar back ground.

The woman walked forward and yanked the man's head up. Bruised and bloodied, it was Six. King gasped at the sight of his son, but Kyntak ignored him.

"I have in my possession," she announced, "Agent Six of Hearts."

Kyntak's heart stopped.

Again, sorry for delay.