Shane was getting a little tired of being dragged around by the time they crossed the skybridge, but he kept silent about it. Kasumi looked weary of it, too, though while he tried to keep his expression blank, hers was more of a glare. He wondered what their captors had been doing before they’d been tasked to haul them up to Sparrow. Apparently, it was nothing of greater importance.
One of the people holding Kasumi called the elevator, and Shane stared straight ahead while he waited for it to arrive. When it dinged and he heard the elevator doors open, he was pulled through— and then dropped, his head and back hitting the ground painfully. It was most likely an accident, but while pain shot through his skull, all four of Sparrow’s underlings laughed for several seconds before the two who had been holding him had the thought to pick him up again. He did nothing, merely clenched his jaw tighter to keep from wincing in pain, but Kasumi’s glare intensified the slightest bit.
The elevator dinged again, and they traveled upwards.
A quick look at the buttons told Shane that they were going to the top floor, just below the roof. From the outside, he would have assumed the skyscraper next door to the Fortune was an office building. Maybe it was. Did crime lords have offices? It would have been extremely suspicious to a bystander for four people to be dragging two other people into an elevator at a late hour of the night, so maybe this entire building was an extension of the Arcade.
If he made it out of here, Shane would have a lot to reveal about Crystal City’s crime problem. But thinking about another meeting with Mayor Skender felt like a headache waiting to happen right now.
The doors barely had time to open by the time Shane and Kasumi were dragged out of the elevator and down a carpeted hall that was really going to scrape up his shoes— but he had larger concerns at the moment. Their captors paused in front of a closed door and exchanged slightly nervous looks, communicating silently before one of them sighed and went to knock on the door.
“Bring them in,” Sparrow’s voice called from inside.
One person released Kasumi to hold the door open, and Shane had about a full second to compose his face before he was pulled in front of Sparrow. The crime lord was in a large office that was clearly just his, from the look of the single desk he was sitting at. A wall of shelves holding treasures, art, and normal seeming items that were probably precious artifacts split the room behind him. Even now, in one of the most dangerous situations of his life, Shane couldn’t help but scan the shelves for any historical treasure that was supposedly ‘lost’ forever.
Sparrow gave them a large smile, as if he’d invited them up here for a lighthearted chat and not kidnapped them. “Welcome, both of you! I’ve only met one of you before, and don’t know either of your names, but I am very glad to be seeing you.”
“I don’t exactly feel welcome,” Kasumi replied flatly. “Quite uncomfortable, in fact.”
Sparrow smirked. “You can let go of them. They can make themselves at home.”
Kasumi was pulled up to her feet, but Shane was dropped again. That time was definitely on purpose, he thought with a grimace as he pushed himself up and got to his feet.
Sparrow watched him with amusement as he dusted himself off and raised his head higher. “How did your little excursion to Storm City go?”
“It would’ve been nicer if you’d played fair,” Shane replied. “A lot cheaper, too. We were ready to spend fifty million on that scroll.”
“Fifty million? That was on the lower end of what I expected they’d ask for.” Sparrow shrugged. “We could have saved bringing you into this altogether, if those two would have been willing to sell directly to us. There was no chance they would though, so we needed interested clients. We thank you for your part in the work.”
“Don’t mention it,” Kasumi muttered.
Sparrow laughed. “If it helps, we would have left you alone after this. It would be the least we could do for your help. But since you showed up at my doorstep…” He gestured around lazily. “Well, it seems like you can’t get enough.”
“They didn’t show up and just knock,” one of the mages standing by Shane blurted. “They threw smoke bombs and this one—” He jabbed Shane in the ribs, a little painfully. “—blew up the staircase.”
Sparrow’s gaze swiveled to the man, giving him a cool but sharp look, and the mage snapped his mouth shut. The message was clear: he was not supposed to be talking.
“I’m aware,” Sparrow said lightly, before he turned back to Shane curiously. “I didn’t expect a rich kid to go that far. Did one of my thieves teach you how to use a bomb?”
“They aren’t your thieves,” Shane said quietly, “and no. I learned how to use them myself.”
Sparrow applauded, only his grin giving away that it was mocking. “Wonderful. I could almost hire you in my next rounds of recruits with a skill like that.”
Shane set his jaw further and said nothing.
“But you’re wrong about the first part,” Sparrow continued. “They are my thieves. They still haven’t done anything that I wouldn’t have them do, and the only difference is that they’re not on my payroll. The two of them have been hoping to beat me at my game, but the Arcade is mine, and the house always wins.” He smiled. “And now the two of you are mine, too, but I haven’t decided what to do with you yet. Have you got suggestions?”
“I do have an idea,” Kasumi said, lifting her chin in a challenge. “I’d like some more space. The four of you are crowding me a bit.”
Shane knew what would follow, and he was glad to have the simple job of dropping to the ground and not getting in the way.
With the Force rings flashing on her fingers, Kasumi threw her arms out and to the sides as she hurled the two people standing by her to the ground without touching them. Both of them hit the ground hard, slumping into unconsciousness. The two standing by Shane reacted quickly, charging her, but Kasumi whirled around, throwing them away too. One of the mages passed out once she hit the ground; the other one took another Force hit before he collapsed.
Kasumi turned, ready to do the same to Sparrow, but as she raised her hands, she let out of a cry of surprise. All at a sudden, the rings were flying off her fingers and towards the other end of the room. Kasumi stared at her hands in disbelief, and Shane slowly stood up, moving quickly to her side.
“Oh, why thank you,” Sparrow said, spinning around in his chair. “I was wondering if you’d just stay quiet back there.”
A young woman moved out from behind the wall of shelves, unnoticed to him before, and Shane blinked with surprise. She did not look to be in a good state. Her blue eyes had a bleak look to them, with dark circles lining them, and the way she held herself made it seem like she was exhausted, about to drop. She held up a hand, where a Force spell was glowing in her palm, revealing where the rings had flown to.
“What is this?” Kasumi demanded, lowering her hands.
“This,” Sparrow said, his mechanical legs whirring as he stood up, “is Clarity Sable, my most valuable ally. Unfortunately, she is not my most loyal. But luckily for her, I’m a fair man. She betrayed me, so of course she had to betray you a little bit, right?” He waved her over.
Clarity— who had to be Cyrin and Mireya’s friend, because there was no way it could be someone else with that name— reluctantly moved over to Sparrow’s side. Her head hung low, and she hadn’t met anyone’s gaze. Sparrow flashed Shane and Kasumi a bright grin.
“Maybe you’ve put it together by now,” he said, placing a hand on a visibly uncomfortable Clarity’s shoulder, “that I don’t have the First Spell on me for this meeting. Which means, you won’t be getting it tonight.”
Kasumi’s gaze flicked over to Clarity. “Is that true?” she demanded.
Clarity didn’t answer, only let her gaze fall a little further.
Shane’s head was buzzing. If Sparrow knew that Clarity had helped them, he could know a lot of other things about their plan as well. Mireya and Dawn could have gone into her lab and found nothing, or worse, a trap. Cyrin could have been prevented from reaching the top floor. Leilan and Kaja should be alright, because their part of the plan had little to do with Sparrow, but they could still be sought out and found if he knew they were up to something.
Where was Cyrin? He should have been ready to come in once Kasumi used the rings and knocked out their captors, but he hadn’t shown. Shane had no way of knowing what had happened to him, but they needed him here.