Elijah weaved through the endless stream of wanton women, uninterested in anything but the task at hand. He wore a cloak, but he kept the hood down, unafraid of showing his aged face. Under his cloak was an arsenal of different weapons of all sizes that could fit on his person without being noticed. His booted feet made almost no sound as he passed by the women who were so well trained that they didn't hesitate to approach and touch him, asking for a little 'quality time.' Time that he had to pay for and wasn't well worth it.
Once he had reached the end of the hall, he took a left into a different room. This one was dark, a little damp. It looked like it could lead to a cellar, but he knew better. The corridor was long, but his pace was slow. He was in no rush. He stopped at the seventh door he came to and tried the handle. Locked.
A few rounds of ammunition took care of that. The door simply swung open with just a small push. Inside, a young woman dangled in the air, gagged with her hands tied behind her back. He gave her a quick glance before checking the time. "You've got three minutes to get yourself down from there." He told her before he closed the door and took out one of his larger guns, filling it with the right ammo and strapping extra magazines on his belt for easy access.
Leyla rolled dark eyes, but she was already twisting, bending her body. She looped her feet around the rope she was hanging from, with some difficulty, and brought her hands around under herself to fumble a tiny razor blade from where it had been taped to her thigh. What was he even doing here? As she flipped the razor in her hand and began carefully sawing through the ropes binding her hands. One minute down, and she was able to jerk her hands apart, snapping the remainder of the ropes. She left the gag, it was irrelevant just then. Instead, she spent the next minute working at the ropes that hung her from the ceiling.
Quietly, she dropped to the floor, already jerking her sleek black hair back into a knot at the nape of her neck, jerking the gag out of her mouth and tossing it to the ground. "You aren't supposed to be here," she hissed at Eli, swiping a handgun from his belt and checking it briefly before she glanced at him. "You aren't-" This wasn't the man she'd assigned. He wasn't even from her group! What the hell?
Elijah, in one swift move, had her against the grimy wall with her hand twisted up and held against her neck, the gun she had taken from him pressed to the back of her hand. "A man's gun is like his firstborn son. I'd advise you not to take it." He told her in his deep, gravelly voice. He took the gun she'd swiped and replaced it on his belt. "Lesson one: if you don't have a weapon, I'm not loaning mine to you."
He couldn't help it if she'd been so careless as to let it be taken from her. She was lucky he had this tracker on her, or she wouldn't been dead in three, two, one-
The door at the entrance of the long corridor opened and in stepped a few burly men. Elijah raised his gun and took them all out with a few pulls of the trigger. The whole time he stared at the young woman. "There's an exit at the last door to the left. Go through it and take the first door to your right, and you'll come an underground pass. There are rats, so mind where you step. Take the ladder out when you reach it. My men are waiting."
Leyla maintained steady eye contact with Elijah. He wouldn't shoot her, she knew that. He'd gone through too much trouble on her account- not that she had needed him. She always had a lock pick on her person, and for pity's sake, he had several guns. Did she even trust him? "Whatever," she answered, tucking the razor between her fisted fingers- it was better than nothing. Quickly and quietly, she ducked down the hall.
Muttering to herself as she moved, she worked her way through the pass, ignoring the rats- she wasn't squeamish. "Arrogant, pushy, bossy- man." Working her way up the ladder, she kept hold of the small blade. If his men were really up there, she would be prepared.
Elijah glanced at the time again. It was almost sunset. He brought up the rear of their little follow the leader game, guns in hand in case he had to blow out a few more brains. He listened more to the sounds coming from behind him than to the mutterings of the young woman in front of him. His climb up the ladder was slow and steady. He knew what awaited them uptop, and he wasn't worried. He'd just have to knock that razor out of her hand before she hurt herself trying to take out his men.
He brushed himself off once they had reached the surface. They were on the outskirts of town, surrounded by nothing but sand and sparse shrubs. The sun was orange and pink in the sky as it began to set. "Put the razor away." Eli told the young woman. "You'll have no need of it." His men hadn't moved, wouldn't move, without his instructions.
"I'll hang onto it," Leyla answered smoothly, shaking her head and palming the razor neatly. She didn't appear to need it, but it was the only weapon she had at the moment. "Who are you." It was a demand rather than a question. She'd had other plans, plans which hadn't involved him- she'd been doing just fine. She had a number of questions.
Who was this, and how had he found her? Why was he trying to find her?
Easily, she took a few steps back, keeping her back against a scrubby bush, watching Elijah closely and keeping his men in her peripheral vision.
Elijah took out a crudely made stick and lit it with a small lighter. He kept an eye out on the sun and the time he kept on his wrist. "I made an alliance with your father before he passed, and we had a deal. I came to collect." Lifting his hand, he held out a small circular device that flashed when he tapped it. He'd taken it off her person when he'd shoved her against the wall. "You're easy to track."
He blew smoke through his nose before throwing the stick down and crushing it with his foot. The sun had almost set, and he slowly wrapped part of his cloak around his face so only his eyes shown. "I'm no one important. Just another dog who comes when he's called."
"I don't know anything about you. About this." Leyla glared at the tracker he held. "Whatever deal you claim to have had with my father, I can't help you." Collect? He had come to collect what? "Wait." Her eyes narrowed, and she took a step closer to him, frowning. "An alliance." He had to be joking.
That sort of thing was so outdated.
"I'm assuming you have documentation of this- agreement." He would have to prove to her that it was worth her while, because she certainly wasn't going to be 'collected' like some cheap, two bit harlot. Her father didn't own her. This was a new day and age.
Elijah gave her a bored look. Young people and their documentation. The rules had definitely not changed in this land, no matter how the new generation tried. It was a harsh reality, but he wasn't a fool to think that the old ways were lost. "You have a desert rose printed on your body somewhere, do you not?" He'd been there when it had been given to her as a child. Pulling up his own sleeve, he showed her the inside of his right forearm.
Printed on the skin permanently was a sparrow.
"Like I said, I've come to collect one Leyla, aka Sparrow."
Calmly, Leyla pulled herself together, straightening her spine and rolling her shoulders back. Pulling herself to her full, albeit small, height, she toyed with the razor in her hand, staring at Eli from under her lashes, calculating. "..I trusted my father." Trusted him more than to have thought he would set her up with some old man. "Enough to believe that he knew what he was doing. All the same, I won't go into any agreement without knowing the details."
She was shrewd, trained by her father, and there wasn't a chance she was going to be blindly 'collected' without knowing how this arrangement would benefit both of them. Frankly, she didn't see much appeal, this man was intolerable.
"Not even your father's wealth guaranteed you a strong group for you to command. I know of your numbers, and they're pathetic, to say the least." Elijah pulled his sleeve back down to hide the sparrow inked on his skin. "I know of the virus that has easily taken out your home, and I have what you need. I have power and influence. You have exactly what I need as well."
He shrugged. "Money. Simple as that." Elijah took out another stick to smoke. They never lasted long. "If you don't keep to the bargain, I'll have you done away with. But I don't ask of much."
Leyla's voice was clipped, and she reached down, securing the razor to her ankle. He was right, she could do with more men. Of course, it seemed like he wasn't about to turn over his group, either- if he tried to make a pathetic housewife out of her, he would have another thing coming. "We should talk. The night's young." He had ruined her investigation back in there, so he might as well make the interruption worth her time.
Elijah jerked his head to the side. His men soon scattered, leaving him and Leyla alone to talk in private. "Now, before you start thinking that I ruined your mission in there, it was just a setup. There was nothing of worth in that place. No information on what you're looking for." He told her. The sun finally went down. His shadow changed, along with his person. He took a few steps back as he started to shrink, to take away from the effect. His clothes still fit; he'd altered them to withstand the small change.
"I don't like to negotiate, so this is what we'll do. You'll lead my men, and you'll stay out of my way otherwise."
After a moment, she crossed her arms. "I'll gladly stay out of your way, on the condition that you stay out of mine." He wouldn't continue to boss her around, to treat her like she was useless, if he wanted her to lead his people. "Furthermore, I won't be tracked." A grown woman, she didn't need someone keeping tabs on her as if she were some teenaged kid. Ridiculous.