An hour later, Hector and Serena were standing outside a warehouse. It was clearly derelict – the perfect place for an underground fight club for the lawless. They walked up to a side door, Serena stalking more like. That was something that Serena had learnt how to do; walk silently. Hector could remember how her footsteps got quieter and quieter until even he had to struggle to hear them. It came with the job description, being silent.
As she came up close to the door, Hector noticed her entire body stiffen then relax. Something was wrong. She turned and smiled at Hector. "You wait out here with the bags and then I will get Sukhi and the boys to help you with them – let me just go and introduce you, they hate surprises and guests are a major surprise."
Then she disappeared through the door before Hector could say a word. Something about the door alerted her, but what? Then he saw them, the scratches around the lock – someone had broken in, picked the lock. But Hector was faster than she was anyway. He sprinted to catch up with her, following the tunnel underneath the warehouse. She was holding her favourite gun, silencer attached, poised outside the final entrance to the training area. When she saw Hector she nearly shot at him to keep him at bay but refrained from letting whoever was inside know she was there.
Hector zoomed into the room and before he could start any fighting he stopped dead. There was no living person in the room... because everyone had been killed. Serena entered then, gun drawn. He watched the animation drip from her face as she plastered a neutral expression on her features. "I see." She whispered, almost inaudibly. She walked among the dead, respectfully closing their eyes as she did. Hector was surprised by how businesslike she was being. When she got to the other side of the room, she pulled out tanks of gasoline and started splashing it over the place.
"What are you doing?!" Hector said. "You will never find out who did this unless-"
"I know who did this, Hector." She snapped. She sighed and softened her tone, "Please, can you help me?" She could barely help the tremor in the voice at the end of her sentence. Hector could see how hard she was trying to hold it together, so he obliged, drenching her only friends and acquaintances in the flammable liquid. Then his sensitive ears picked up something, a slight shuffle of feet, from behind them, then a deep breath. Shit! He instinctively rushed in front of Serena, shielding her from whatever sort of trouble was in that direction.
She drew her gun and shot in that direction but the person was too fast. Shit. A Scion. The Scion launched himself at Hector and he fought back, blocking punches and hitting back with every ounce of strength in him and that was a hell of a lot. Hector grabbed the Scions ankles and threw him into the wall. He lost sight of Serena and panicked, looking around desperately for her.
The Unknown Scion launched himself at Hector, he had some skill but not much so Hector didn't have much trouble detaining the Scions arms behind him, but suddenly and ear-splitting scream deafened Hector completely, causing Hector to drop all defences and fall to the floor. What are you doing Hector? Get up! His fighting instincts yelled at him. He was going to die like this. Furious at himself, Hector forced himself onto his feet but the other Scion had the upper hand – he must have a special talent. The screech of a Harpy. The unknown Scion pounded Hector into the ground with a punch so mighty Hector vaguely thought he must be as strong as Hector was. Then the attack suddenly stopped.
The Scions head rolled off his body, towards Hector, the body keeled over and behind him stood Serena, giant machete in her hand, gleaming in the light streaming through the tiny windows, blood streaked and triumphant. "Asshole." She said, kicking the body away from her in disgust. She offered a hand out to Hector and he took it, not really needing her help to stand up, but just wanting to hold her hand in his. He didn't let go and smiled. "You okay?" She asked tenderly.
She was so strong, in the face of all this death she was asking if he was okay! Incredible, Hector thought, she's just incredible. "I'm fine. You?"
She flashed me a dangerous smile, "He didn't touch me." Then her smile turned incredulous, "So that is what it means to be an Outcast."
Hector surveyed the scene around them. "Yes. Serena? Are you sure you are okay?" He asked again. She looked at him, her eyes hard and dark, her mouth set in a determined neutral expression.
"People die every day. They were criminals, they had it coming." She answered harshly. "And I have it coming too."
Hector frowned and pulled her into a hug but she pushed him away. Hector would normally feel rejected but he knew Serena too well. She was feeling vulnerable and weak, and she didn't want him to know. "You said you know who did it." He said instead.
She nodded. "Raul." She replied. Hector was taken aback. How was that possible? "The killing style is just like his, judging by the blood it was a strike in the middle of the day by trained contractors who will probably all end up dead anyway. He left someone behind to dispose of the evidence or wait for bait – in our case the latter although I don't think he was expecting you, Hector. He used outsourced untraceable bullets probably from his uncle, the arms dealer and he used automatic weapons – no risk of someone getting close enough to the killer for it to be implicated. I have studied his style very closely, I know this is him. Besides, look at Sukhi." She said walking to a man about her own age, messy brown hair arranged on his head to hide his dead, glossy eyes, his collapsed body spread eagled on the floor. She gingerly pulled the hair out of his face and Hector could see the gaping hole where his eye had been pulled out. "Raul is kind of famous for taking souvenirs."
She gently, with some difficulty, slid his eyelids shut and covered his eyes with his hair. Hector notices her suppress a sob and looked away so she knew he hadn't seen it – it would make her feel better knowing she appears strong when she is clearly shaken up. But then who wouldn't be? She finished emptying out the flammable liquid and left without another word, leaving a trail of the liquid behind her. He followed her out and as the last of the fuel dripped from the bottle, she pulled out a lighter, set it alight and threw it into the liquid. The trail of fire spread much quicker than Hector had expected but Hector didn't see when the fire inside was lit – only the faint roar of the flames from beneath the warehouse got out.
She watched stealthily, paying her respects to the men who had supported her when she needed it, given her jobs, money, food, weapons. Hector pulled her into his arms and for a second she resisted his comfort but then any defences she had up against him came crashing down and she clung to him desperately, burying her head in his chest, refusing to shed a single tear. "I'm sorry Serena." Hector said. Even as he said it, he regretted it – she hated pity. She pulled out of his arms and pushed him away with as much strength as she could muster which didn't even move Hector an inch.
"Don't pity me – Don't you dare pity me." She shouted furiously, hitting his chest. She was just angry at the world right now. "Don't you dare!" Hector caught her hands and held them behind her, holding her close. She fought for another second and gave up, seeking asylum in Hector. "I'm really sorry about Pandora, Hector, really I am but... my being sorry doesn't do anything about it." She said finally.
He kissed her forehead and held her even closer, "No it doesn't. But you being here with me does." He breathed truthfully over the roar of the fire. She pushed him away slightly again but then pulled him back by the waistband of his jeans and kissed him chastely on the lips.
"Well I guess I had better stay with you." She whispered, slightly unsure but smiling. Hector nearly had a heart attack – did she just say that? Then the expression on her face was wiped away as she looked back to the burning building. "We have to get out of here." She said.
She broke into one of the cars in the parking lot and hotwired it. Hector got in and closed the door. With a final look at the building, she drove away. "Where are we going?" Hector asked.