Second-Hand Rumors~ chapter 8

      The best villains would have you believe that revenge is a dish best served cold. Liam disagreed, but only slightly. Revenge is a dish best served at room temperature. Rushing off with fire in your pants and brimstone on your breath would only get you killed, but wait too long and nobody will even remember what you’re getting revenge for in the first place. Liam stole to pay off his debts, and he stole to keep his belly full. He robbed people who looked like they could afford to support his crippling fear of honest, hard labor for a few more days. His thievery had never gotten anyone, barring himself, killed before that day. Greed may have lured him into making a mistake, but Liam wasn’t so foolish as to think he literally pulled the triggers that killed those gnomes. That strike lay with the Society for the Protection of Humankind. Liam knew full well they would never do anything to make up for their actions, so he volunteered himself in their place.

     In order to exact what would ultimately amount to petty retribution against a government agency with disturbingly little oversight, Liam turned to the Nair mansion. Nobody batted any eye when he went into the records room on the third floor; he had been there so often to take the back route to his secret booze stash. Research is the lifeblood of any thief. He spent days reading up on their operations, and for the first time he got a brief view of the broad scope the Society actually possessed. The working logic seemed to be that, because the creatures the Society killed weren’t, strictly speaking, human, it didn’t count as murder. That, and healthy doses of fear and xenophobia, were the guiding principles which kept them humming along.

     That’s not to say they were entirely based in ideology, they walked through the halls of business as well. If Matthew Bergson had taught Liam anything, it’s that genocide is a profitable business. The worst part was that everyone wanted a piece of the pie. Judging from the list of investors, there was a lot of pie to go around as well. If Liam was going to stick it to them, he had one of a few options to play with. He could rob them, though he had already done that. He could destroy their stuff, but that would just slow them down. After having researched them for days, Liam came to the conclusion that only one method of revenge would suit these bastards. He was going to scare away their investors. The best method for that was to convince them the rotted brains behind the operation were so astonishingly and profoundly stupid, it was a wonder they didn’t drown while drinking their morning lattes.

     With his plans in mind, Liam left the Nair mansion without telling Simon where he was going or what he was doing. It wasn’t exactly a great idea. Simon could have come looking for him at any moment. On top of that, if Liam needed help, nobody would know where he was. Liam already knew what Simon would have done, had he told him. He would have complained, told Liam it was a horrible idea and maybe even put him under penthouse arrest, which is like house arrest but with maid service. Liam had one more reason for not telling Simon where he was going. Whatever temperature you like your revenge served, most people don’t like to share that particular dish with anyone else.

     The Society headquarters were in Manhattan, which made sense. If you’re planning on killing off entire species worth of creatures, you could do worse than to set up shop in the one city they all have to come to. Since the Nair mansion served as a government hub, it was a solid bet that if you were getting married, buried or sued, you would either have to come here yourself or send a letter with your address on it at some point in your life. That also made it the logical place for Liam to begin his campaign of stupefying the Society, because all their head honchos would be in one place.

     Once Liam located the building, he set up shop outside of it and just watched. There was an almost constant stream of people coming and going. Most of them were just workers, going to those floors between the top and bottom two. It only took Liam a day two to recognize who really worked for the Society and who merely invested in them. Those people working with the Society almost universally had sharp eyes, which missed almost nothing in their path. A large portion of Society people carried themselves like professional soldiers and looked as though they owned time-shares in a local gym. At any rate, one thing was for certain. Liam could only take so long on each phase of his plan before he was spotted, and after a couple of days he knew it was time to move on to the next phase.

     Ruining someone’s day, the plan Liam slowly brewed as he went, made him a thief of time. How much time could he waste? The more time the Society spent fixing their sprinkler system, the less time they could spend killing. Before Liam even considered entering the building, he wanted to see who came and left at night. For three days, he stayed cooped up at home, making preparations. It had been a very long time since he had put this much effort into anything, and he knew he was only going to get one shot at it. All the materials he would need the day of, costume, lock picks, flammables and wires, would have to be prepared ahead of time. The easiest and most fun part were the flammables.

     The Dirt Gremlins who stubbornly remained entrenched, infesting Liam’s apartment, constantly used his walls in search of their grotesque muse. Most of the rooms bore the evidence of their constant search for art, and beside the fact that they kept the cost of his apartment abnormally low, their art turned out to be highly flammable. Scraping it off the wall always turned into an ordeal, because nobody likes seeing their brilliant creations removed and put into an empty paint can, one scrape at a time. The mass of “paint” in the kitchen proved to be especially good, because it contained a lot of grease which would light up quite nicely under the right circumstances.

    After a few days had gone by, Liam returned to the Society headquarters and watched from an alcove across the street. As he had suspected, gaining entrance to the building at night was out of the question. He stood in the shadows the whole night, crouched low so that it would be harder to see him. There were two guards just inside the building, which Liam could only see when they moved. Even if Liam hadn’t noticed them, there were a couple of very fit men jogging around with their German Shepherds at suspiciously late hours. Staying another night would only confirm what he already knew. Whether or not he could bring a little pain to the Society depended on how easy it was to get a package into their offices.

     The next day, Liam sent a box to the offices, and packed inside of it was a little gift Simon had given him. It was a little bone totem which made a map of everywhere it went. That was likely the best that Liam was going to get. He addressed it to some random person, knowing full well it would make the rounds and then be sent back to whence it came, allowing him to use it again. He avoided using it whenever possible, because a thief who relies on crutches will never have a very long career. Two days after that, the box circulated around every Society office and cubicle they had. While the box travelled around, the pen attached to the totem scribbled out that map with Liam watching the whole time. Two floors, fully mapped out and a basement as well, which went down several floors.

    In a few days, the totem would return to the PO Box that Liam used when he wasn’t sure if he would be able to pick up his tools all that soon. Time to get to work. Grabbing a duffle bag, he put on his fake repairman’s uniform and slung the bag over his shoulder. It moved around for a bit before finally calming down when Liam patted it a few times reassuringly. The only thing better than Dirt Gremlin “paint” were actual Dirt Gremlins. It had taken a long time to coax them into getting into the bag, but Liam suddenly felt like it was worth all the effort. The only thing left to do was walk into the building, pay attention to the people around him and then ruin their day.

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