Chapter 1: Mister Fahrenheit
It’s not easy living on the run. Especially, if you’re living on the run with a band of emotionally immature self-centered idiots. But Five makes due, as he always does.
They’re ludicrous, each and every one of them. They attract death like ferromagnetic metal, and only seem to escape it through the most bizarre of methods.
Like the time Klaus ran out into fire in nothing but a frilly apron and bedazzled Uggs, while wielding an antique rifle (“Cowabunga bitches!” ).
Or the time in which Diego decided to launch himself down an entire flight of stairs in order to get away from the enemy.
Five loves his family, he really does, even if he sometimes questions his own sanity for it. None of them are remotely reasonable. A couple of them possess the ability to act like normal people in public. However, the illusion is fleeting at best, and usually ends up shattered by someone inevitably setting something on fire.
If it hadn’t been for Mr. Pennycrumb, Five would’ve tugged out every strand of hair from his skull by now.
Five had taken an immediate shine to the dog when they'd come across it in a Wendy’s parking lot while munching on the corpse of a pigeon. It was too small to be of any use, but was starved and Five could tell it was a survivor.
The others weren’t as sold on the merits of taking care of a feral stray dog while on the run from The Commission. Still, Five had already dubbed him Mr. Pennycrumb, and the deal was sealed. His siblings can’t tell him what to do anyways.
It seemed that they’d reached a consensus of, “the company would do him good,” which was condescending and not at all appreciated. However, Five held his tongue; whatever helped them sleep at night, and helped him keep his dog without all the fuss.
Five could appreciate the simplicity of Mr. Pennycrumbs needs, and attended to them accordingly. A refreshing change for once. Another rational force among a world of uncertainty, chaos, and stupidity.
It’s only Five and Mr. Pennycrumb against the world. It’s currently only Five and Mr. Pennycrumb in the literal sense as well.
Five had come down with a cold. Unfortunate, really. His siblings left him to scout out a potentially important time event. Something convoluted about a strawberry, a diamond, and a catastrophic weapon. This was perhaps their only chance at getting the leg up on The Commission, but Five is sick, so he was left behind in the stupid motel. He understands, he is a liability and no one can survive with the weight of carrying a liability around; not without tripping and falling backwards into a grave. He would know.
Mr. Pennycrumb whines and pushes his head into Five’s hand. Mr. Pennycrumb can always tell when Five’s mind starts to stray into darker waters, and comforts him as best as he can manage with only the faculties of a beast at his disposal. Five does not deserve Mr. Pennycrumb.
The fever reminds him too much of back then, when each cold held the weight of a death sentence. Five sits on the bed with a mop bucket in his lap. The mop bucket is in case of vomit. Five truly is the world’s most dangerous man.
Five bends over, his stomach painfully clenching on nothing. The shifting colored light from the neon sign and the highway, illuminate the room. As does the TV in the corner, providing a comfortable source of white noise. The moment passes, and Five lays back down. Mr. Pennycrumb lies curled up at Five’s side, and Five strokes his fur absentmindedly.
Mr. Pennycrumb’s head snaps up. He stands alert, and lets out a deep growl. Someone’s outside.
It could be the cleaning lady, it could be anyone, but Five heeds the warning and teleports behind the door anyway.
The door handle rattles. Someone is picking the lock. It’s unmistakable.
Click. The door opens slowly. A man creeps in, gun at the ready. He hasn’t seen Five yet, so Five needs to make this quick. Mr. Pennycrumb begins barking in earnest. The man points the gun at the dog.
Five kicks in the back of his knee. The man staggers to the ground. Five swipes a knife off the guy’s belt.
Five jumps in front of him. His stomach churns and he feels bile rise up in this throat, but has no choice but to ignore it for now.
He knocks the gun out of the guy’s lax grip. Rookie. The man makes a mad grab for Five, but Five is quicker. He grabs the would-be-killer's hand and twists it around by the meat of the thumb. He angles his arm behind his back, until it holds taught like a bow string and brittle like bark candy. He punches it at the elbow, breaking the bone completely. It bursts out of the skin backwards. The man screams .
Ouch, that’s gotta hurt.
As it would be fair to say the man is adequately distracted, Five takes the opportunity to slit the guy’s throat. The blood splatters and pours, as it always does. Five jumps again.
Over many years of dubious work, Five’s learned that when blood is spilled it doesn’t have a smell at first, although it is very visible. The smell catches up with you later from your clothes or from your hands or your shoes. He’s got blood all over his front, which is not ideal but. Whatever. (He’s so tired of that smell).
He searches the body. It’s always best to know your enemy, besides, old habits die hard. Five pulls a large rubber object from his satchel. A gas mask, Commission issued. What the fuck?
If he’s Commission, there should have been at least two others. There appears to be no other Commission lackeys in sight, but there has to be, there just has to be. It’s against company policy for low level assassins work alone. And yet, the gas mask is undeniable. The agent must’ve gotten cocky, and tried to hord the reward all for himself by getting to the target before all the others. Well, look where that got him.
Unfortunately for Five, that means that there’s a gaggle of red goggled incompetents headed his way. Spectacular.
Five takes a moment to quell his nausea, and to wipe the blood on his palms onto his pant leg. He scans the room for his furry friend. Mr. Pennycrumb holds himself stiff in the corner, knowing that there was danger but confused as to what is was.
“You okay there?” Five asks, with uncharacteristic care.
He bends down, and Mr. Pennycrumb comes rushing into Five’s outstretched hands. He scratches the backs of Mr. Pennycrumb’s ears in thanks. The dog has been a Godsend, truely.
Time to get to work.
Five jumps. Five jumps again, vigilant to only land around corners, in the shadows, out of sight. He counts, tallying the perimeter, like he’s done a thousand times.
One by the ice machine, one by the lobby, one at the end of the stairs, one on the floor directly underneath, and so on.
There are twelve Commission assassins.
Five warps back to his room. He rubs his temples, he needs to think.
Mr. Pennycrumb trots around the dead body, sniffing it curiously.
How did The Commission find him? He’d made sure they were being so careful. It was probably one of his idiot siblings that gave away their position. On top of everything, Five’s sick, so that’s an immediate disadvantage. Christ. And what about his best friend? Mr. Pennycrumb, for all his virtues, is a noisy clumsy creature. Likely to draw attention and then death. What means does Five need to employ to guarantee his safety? Then there is the matter of the other residents of the motel-
Mr. Pennycrumb lets out a bark, not pleased with being ignored.
Five looks to Mr. Pennycrumb. The dog skips around Five, occasionally tripping on its own paws. It’s still a puppy after all. Adorable. Five clenches his fists. If they kill his dog, he’s going to fucking lose it. He’s going to fucking lose it, he swears to God.
There are twelve Commission assassins.
He has to kill twelve people. Twelve living breathing people.
Five looks into Mr. Pennycrumb’s adoring face and uniquely vacant eyes. His tongue flops out of his mouth as he smiles up at Five.
Five’s mouth curls into a cruel Cheshire grin.
You know what? Good.
Chapter 2: On A Collision Course
The chapter titles are from Queen's Don't Stop Me Know.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Stealth is a bitch when you’re sick.
It’s hard to keep your footsteps light, your vision sharp, your attention even sharper, when the world is muddied by scratchy throats, spinning nausea, and headaches that pound until the pain obstructs your vision. The body has no master, and all his wants is to double over heaving. But he refuses to vomit at this time. He’s a professional.
All Five knows, is that he needs to make this quick. Each second second that ticks by is one closer to him returning to his room only to find the still form of Mr. Pennycrumb, all open glass eyes ( and ash ) lying in a pool of his own gore ( partially buried in rubble ). What he needs to find is his very living best friend who tears up the sheets when he’s bored. And that’s all that literally fucking matters right now. So, ergo, swiftness.
He catalogs their weaknesses. The one closest to the door is hunched over, tired by the looks of it, whether from some physical or mental factor. No matter, it’s an advantage. The one with the chipped mask has a leg length discrepancy, the shortest one’s hands are shaking, the one next to him steps boldly, overconfident, etc. etc. etc. All weakness. All variables in a solution. All small mercies in a universe piss poor on luck.
They’re just local hires, common mercenaries. The Commission sent them knowing they would probably die. The ultimate underling, disposable like trash. He briefly considers if any of them were puzzled by the sheer amount of manpower requested to capture one small child. Five shakes his head. These men were not paid to think , and thus they would not do so. That’s just how people are. Another advantage.
They move as a pack. They apparently worked out some kind of formation, and seem to be communicating with walkie-talkies and typical militaristic hand gestures. It would be scary if their skills weren’t pathetic. Every hesitation, stiff maneuver, and awkward miscommunication indicate that these men are lacking in that only trust can give. It is obvious that this group isn’t accustomed to working with each other. Good.
What really concerns Five are the silencers on the ends of each of their guns. A Commission specialty of course.
Here’s the thing about bullets, they tear through most anything. As far as objects typically found inside domestic environments go, almost none stands a chance in stopping a bullet. Especially those from a semi-automatic, like the ones the low level Commission assassins tend to carry. Those are the type of guns that rip Kevlar and shatter metal. They fire in rapid succession, effectively turning their whatever their intended target is into red dust. Most motel walls are made of sheetrock or drywall, with insulation in the middle. This motel is especially shitty, so it’s safe to say it has especially shitty walls. Probably made of goddamn paper. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that things aren’t boding well for the residents.
They won’t even be able to hear their deaths coming.
Five usually wouldn’t care all that much to be honest (what are a handful of people to billions, after all?). But Luther’s pinched eyebrows ( “I know there’s some good left in you, Five,” ) and Ben’s deadpan honesty ( “Wow dude, that was fucked up. Even by our standards,” ) are starting to creep more and more into the makeup of his thoughts; slowly replacing The Handler’s silent challenges and domino games. Five isn’t diluted enough to think he’ll ever be a good person, but maybe sometimes he can do good things. For his family.
He needs to evacuate the other occupants of the motel.
Easy. He warps to the hall and pulls the fire alarm. He is greeted with the sound of nothing. Fuck, not so easy then. Either the motel is shit or the Commission took extra care to insure the success of their mission. Considering human beings are hell bent on being absolute dumbfucks of the tallest order, he’s betting on the first.
He’ll just have to reduce the amount of gunfire then.
Five materializes back into his room. He has a plan. He isn’t too fond of it but he doesn’t have the time to come up with a new one. They'll be coming any minute.
He scoops up Mr. Pennycrumb, and carries him to the bathroom, silently apologizing the whole way. His fat little body bounces in Five's grip with each step.
“I’ll be right back, buddy.” Five tells him, right before he closes the door and locks him in. Mr. Pennycrumb just looks at him wide eyed as he does it.
Five wishes that he could put Mr. Pennycrumb in a less compromising position. He wishes that he could just get Mr. Pennycrumb out of here all together.
He picks up the bloodied knife from the floor.
Mr. Pennycrumb whines, scratches, and thumps against the door. Something in Five’s chest jerks at that despite the situation.
He turns up the TV all the way (all the better to draw attention and to drown out Mr. Pennycrumb’s pathetic cries with), and pushes the door open. It wouldn’t be polite of him not to invite his would-be-killers in, would it?
He transports into the air vents to lie in wait. The air vent is full of dust and lint, but Five manages to suppress his coughs. The one good thing about having such a small body he supposes, is that it can squeeze into small spaces. He peers through the vent.
The air is still. The white noise from the TV fills the void, and the flashes from the screen light up the room in bursts.
It isn’t long before The Commission agents start to trickle in. Five counts four assassins, although his vision is obstructed a bit. They hold their guns at the ready, as if that’ll even help them in the end. They scan the room, to discover it occupied by the body of their fallen comrade. Eerie, but not their target.
The group hesitates as a collective when they reach the corpse.
“What happened here?” asks one of them. His tone perhaps a little too shake-y to be professional.
“The target is considered highly dangerous,” answers another.
“The thirteen year old kid?-”
One of the Commission agents, probably the leader considering his position, leans into the walkie-talkie that's strapped onto his shoulder, “Man down. Broken arm, slit throat. Over.”
“Search the room to confirm the target. Then await further instructions. Over.”
“Affirmative. Nosferatu, Over and Out.”
“Can some turn that damn thing off?” barks the leader, presumably referring to the Ajax commercial currently blaring from the television
The shake-y one steps around the corpse, to his task. With the nob turned, and without the headache inducing level of noise, a scratching sound can be clearly heard. It's coming from the bathroom.
They hastily gather into formation and begin to approach.
“Hello?” calls out The Leader, “Number Five, are you in there? We just want to talk.”
Every inch they make towards the distraction, the more they turn their backs from Five. The red haring has taken up the attention of each and every one of them completely. Yahtzee.
Five gathers up his energy in his hands. If the assassins were to look up, they’d see a particular electric blue coming from the slits of the vents.
The lead Commission agent jiggles the door.
Five twists the space around him.
Sorry for the long wait, and sorry this chapter was a bit underwhelming. Life's been a bitch lately.
The next chapter will have a bunch of action in it or your money back guaranteed.