TO THE RESCUE!!! part 1
Location: Shady Side
Timeline: January 22nd, 2012
The street was quiet, even for Shady Side. There wasn't much to do on a Saturday morning in the small seaside town, and the few shops there were weren't set to open for another few hours. They should have been doing this at night, Melissa mused, not in the middle of the morning, but when she tried to sneak out of the house the evening before, she'd been caught by her mother at the front door and THAT had not gone well.
She hoped the extra delay hadn't hurt Tim too much. His parents were already starting to freak out, and Tara had come by to ask pointed questions about what Melissa had done to her brother. It had gotten awkward. Melissa wasn't the best liar.
“Is this the place?” Melissa asked, looking up at the storefront of a small electronics repair shop. They fixed computers, but generally not that well. The school used them, and so did Aunt Tina’s office. “They brought Tim here?”
“I believe so, yes.” Ushebti replied. He’d brought an old laptop, cradled under his arm. It seemed like a sensible cover to be going in the shop and potentially distracting the staff. He was also carrying his bulging bag again, near bursting with supplies. “I found that a lot of extra time went into the buildings construction. I think it’s larger than the submitted plans suggest.”
“You need to remember, Melissa, that Tim may not be present when we find him. He might not act himself.”
She frowned. “That makes no sense. How could he not be present if we find him?” She stopped, blinking as a thought suddenly occurred to her. She went very pale. “D-do... do you mean... like... they... t-tortured him, o-or something? Broke him?”
“I...There is a great darkness upon him. Do not assume he has your best interests in mind, right now.”
She didn't understand what Ushebti was talking about, but it made her uneasy. She didn't really like it, so she decided to change the topic. “Tell me the plan again.”
Ushebti cast her a glance but decided not to press the issue. He’d not been able to see what was going to happen inside this building, no matter how hard he’d tried. He had to hope she’d see the truth of what was inside Tim and help him be rid of it.
“It’s a quiet morning, so there’s just one person in the shop front. I imagine there’ll be others inside with Tim, but we’ll cross that bridge after we get to it. Now, I’m going to give the guy the laptop, which is horrifically slow. He’ll need to take it in the back to run some diagnostics, I imagine. You’ll hover near the door whilst I sort out the laptop, and once he goes out the back, open the door and let it close by itself.”
“When he eventually comes back and we’re not there, hopefully he’ll assume we just left the shop together. Whilst he’s in the back we’ll actually slip down the basement stairs, the entrance for which is in the main shop, near the counter.”
Melissa nodded. “And when we're downstairs, we find Tim and rescue him from whoever is holding him captive.” Her words were firm. “Whatever it takes, including summoning Neferu again, okay?”
Ushebti said nothing, but after a few moments nodded.
“Give me a minute.” Melissa pulled her phone from her pocket. “I just... I need to call someone before we do this.”
She took a few steps away from the dark-clad boy as she dialed the number. She’d programmed Aiden’s number into her phone, assuming she’d never need to use it. There wasn’t much that he could do, Melissa figured, but if this did end up being dangerous, someone needed to know what happened.
The phone rang as she held it up to her ear and waited for Aiden to pick up.
“Hi. It’s, um, Melissa. F-from Shady Side.” She stammered, suddenly starting to question whether this really was a good idea after all. “I, um... I uh... I was w-wondering i-if y-you c-could... um... help w-with...”
She paused. It took her a moment, but doubt started to creep in. “I-is th-this Aiden?”
[No, but I can pass a messa-]
She hung up the phone. No. She didn’t know who that was, but if it wasn’t Aiden, then she didn’t know if she could trust the person on the other side. Maybe they were working with whoever took Tim! Something told her that she could trust Aiden, but she didn’t know about anyone else.
With a deep sigh, she moved back to Ushebti near the door of the computer store.
“After you.” She gestured toward the door.
A small bell chimed as the door opened. A portly man looked up from a tablet with surprise that quickly dulled to annoyance as he noticed the laptop under Ushebti’s arm. “Yeah?”
“Hi there.” Ushebti moved forward and put the laptop on the shop counter. “I’m having some problems with my laptop. It’s running really slowly, and I keep getting these weird blue screens with writing on for a split second.”
The man’s stared at the laptop impassively, before he dragged himself to his feet to open the lid and press the power button. Nothing happened.
“Was it working this morning?” He looked at Ushebti.
“I haven’t used it for a few days, it might be out of battery.”
“I’ll take it out the back and have a quick look. No promises.” The portly man picked up the laptop.
“Sure thing, I might go for a quick smoke while I wait.” Ushebti commented as the man disappeared into the back room, and the young man wasted no time in signalling to Melissa to open the door for a couple of seconds and then let it close, as he moved towards the basement door.
The bell above the door jingled as the shop door was opened and closed, a loud metallic chime that felt far too loud and obnoxious given the stealth that was to follow. Melissa tossed it a disapproving glare as she quickly followed Ushebti.
Producing a small piece of metal, Ushebti slipped it down the side of the door as he turned the handle with a click. The unsecure internal door swung open easily and he let Melissa slip through the door before closing it behind them.
The steps behind the door were dimly lit, but there was enough faint light that the pair could avoid the bits of computer debris that littered the stairs as they descended. The stairs let out into a long, dank and dirty corridor with rooms to either side. From the base of the stairs and the light coming from three of the rooms, Melissa couldn't tell if these rooms had doors or not, save for the one at the distant end of the hallway. That door was closed, framed by an ominous looking red light.
Melissa looked at Ushebti to her side. “The last one? It almost always is the last one in WoM...”
Ushebti had slipped a nightstick out from somewhere and was holding it around his neck, ready to snap into the head of anyone who posed a threat. The corridor light flickered briefly.
The sight of Ushebti’s weapon made her uneasy, but it was perfectly reasonable that he had it out. These people had attacked her and Tim, used violence to take him and nearly take her as well. As much as she didn’t want this to come to that - Melissa certainly wasn’t Neferu and didn’t know how to fight like she did! - she had to admit that it wasn’t impossible that it would. She nodded at him and began to move down the corridor.
Coming to the first doorway, Melissa stopped and peeked her head in to the dark room. It was empty, save for a few scattered boxes and an old, rusted metal desk. Instinct told her to loot the room, but she didn’t want to waste the time. She glanced back at Ushebti for guidance.
Ushebti nodded, his features deadly serious, as he checked the other door, which he initially thought was locked, but the door was just stiff. It opened on to a room with a few desks inside, computers with the screens turned off on the desks. It looked more like a room used for LAN parties than the lair of Tim’s kidnappers.
He glanced back at Melissa and they both looked at the final door.