The Syndicate L representative walked through the door only moments later.
If Ray had worn his khakis and button down shirt as some kind of office camouflage, the Syndicate L rep went one step further.
Middle aged with a tinge of gray in his brown hair, the guy wore a light brown suit coat over a black shirt. I thought I saw a bulge under his left arm, but couldn’t be sure.
It had to be a gun though.
Aside from that, it pointed to an interesting pattern in the Syndicate L higher ups I’d seen–they didn’t look like thugs.
It fit, I supposed, with how they were more focussed on transporting illegal objects than committing crimes. Passing as regular businessmen could only help.
It still seemed weird though.
From what I’d seen so far of them, it seemed like the only criminal organization I’d ever heard of where having an MBA might help you get ahead.
He didn’t seem all that impressed with me though. He looked me over, and smirked.
I couldn’t think of anything particularly funny about how I was dressed, but then I looked down at my shirt. In my rush to get moving, I’d grabbed the first dark, long sleeved t-shirt that I could find–a black shirt with a big, yellow Batman symbol on the chest.
“Looks like we got ourselves a tough one, Ray.” He laughed at his own joke.
Then he pulled out a chair and sat down.
Under his breath, he said, “Ray, his name?”
“Nick,” Ray muttered.
“Nick,” he said, “call me Allen. I’m from Syndicate L.”
I didn’t intend to call him anything, but I was happy to put Allen at the top of the list of names I didn’t plan to use.
He paused, possibly waiting for me to say something like, “Allen, nice to meet you. It’s a pleasant change of pace to be held captive in a conference room.”
I didn’t say anything.
“Nick, Nick, Nick,” he said, sounding a little more patronizing with each “Nick.”
“You’ve caused us a lot of problems, and by us, I mean the Syndicate, not Ray and I. Anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes, millions of dollars in damage in California alone, and that doesn’t even count the way you interrupted our Grey Giant delivery. What a mess that was. We had to remove the man in charge of this territory, and I came in to straighten things out.
“I suppose you could say I owe you my job, right? But no, that’s not true. I’m not here permanently. I’m here to fix things. I’m a fixer.
“And one of the things I’m here to fix is you.”
He took a breath.
So did I. Allen had to be one of the most talkative enemies I’d met so far.
“We’ve got two ways to make things right. One of them you won’t like much, and the other… the other could lead you on the path to greatness.”
Ray glanced over at him, his face unreadable.
Allen kept on talking.
“We can’t let you keep on doing what you’re doing, oh no. We’ll execute you before we let that happen, but we’ve got another option. We don’t waste material. We recycle. Ha-ha. We see something in you. A potential. A potential for genius in the art of constructing technological devices. A–”
“Allen,” Ray said, “Allen. Get on with it.”
Allen curled his lip. “I was getting to our offer.”
“Get there faster.”
“As I was saying, we’re prepared to offer you a position working for Syndicate L, creating powered armor, devices, and anything else we might need.”
“What if I don’t want to do that?”
“Then I’m afraid we’ll have to kill you.”
“That’s not much of a choice.”
Ray smiled at me. “It’s not meant to be. Now for anyone who might be listening in invisibly, I’ve got a message. We’ve taken our hostages and moved them to separate spots all over the area. If I don’t call them once an hour, my people will kill the hostages. Better than that, I don’t know where they are. So you can have Ghost phase a bullet into my brain, and they’ll die. And you can have your telepath rummage through my brain, and they’ll still die.”
“Precisely,” Allen said. “And speaking of telepaths, we need to know what your plans are. Fortunately, we have one who can crack you like an egg. I’ll get her now.”
He stood up, and went to the door.