The Losers of Lumina Lane

That Time of the Five Years

[Cafe Aurores, 66 Lumina Lane | 1040 Central Time, Day 1]

The cafe has large, aquarium-like windows covering each of its sides. Shouldve been easy to spot activity inside, whether or not business was booming, or if its open or otherwise.

And yet, there was no activity. It was almost as if the cafe was closed.

Big red flag.

There was a car parked right in front of the cafe, perpendicular to Mendezs coming direction, but Mendez didn put his attention to that. Instead, he was wholly focused on the cafe, the overall fishiness of the situation at hand, and a disturbing possibility that yet another assassin has already reached the cafe before he could.

Suddenly, it happened.

At first, he only heard the sound of glass cracking right in front of him. As if something had just flew and pierced it clean through without actually shattering it to pieces.

Something fast.

Something small.

Like a bullet.

And before Mendez knew it, it hit him.

Right on his left arm.

A razor-sharp jolt of pain shot through his left arm. At first it was hot. Then it was sharp. Then it was cold. Then there was a mixture between a squishy and lumpy sensation, all warped into his left arm. At that very instant, Mendezs arm felt like it was made of butter that has been hot-knifed, only 100 times faster.

Instinctively, he clutched the entry wound with his right arm, dropping the UMP submachine gun hed been carrying from his previous encounter. That, and unfortunately, the free-of-charge carton of eggs.

As Mendez leaned his back against the car hed spotted earlier, he looked to his right, where the unfortunate carton of eggs landed.

The carton itself has been burst wide open. The upper lid had been left in a wide gaping position exposing the eggs underneath, most of which were splattered to all hell with whites and yolks spilling everywhere on the hot asphalt for Mendez to see. Those that seemingly survived the crash may have been cracked themselves anyways, just not as graphic as their shattered peers. Truly, a tragic death of eggs.

Mendez looked up and chuckled. All that effort to get the eggs, and now they are on the road in pieces. Such a shame indeed.

After saying his silent condolences to the eggs, Mendez assessed the situation.

Obviously there was another assassin in play. A competent one at that, as this one managed to accurately shoot Mendez from inside of the cafe, in spite of a glass barrier standing between them both. Whether or not this one shot him using a small-caliber weapon or otherwise, Mendez couldn tell. Maybe somewhere in between.

By then, Mendez heard the cafe door swinging open. Quite violently at that, as hed heard the sound of the door slamming against the wall not a second after.

”End of the line, Mendez! ” shouted the assassin. It was a her, as a matter of fact. At least, from the sounds of it. ”You
e retiring for good, right here, right now! ”

Great, Mendez thought. This ones a talker.

And not a sultry, femme-fatale type of woman assassin at that. Judging from her bark-like exclaims, this one sounded militaristic. Stern, steady, and respect-demanding. Less of a spy and more of a drill sergeant. Ex-special forces, perhaps? If so, no wonder she can line up a shot that accurate, hitting Mendez arm like she did.

Mendez peeked from his cover.

There stood the assassin on the steps leading to the cafe entrance, a silenced M1911 pistol on her right hand.

Militaristic is right. The assassin (or solo-acting mercenary, whatever) was wearing full combat gear from head to toe. She wore an all-black combat fatigues complete with her own set of elbow and knee pads, a bulletproof vest over her chest, black combat boots, and black fingerless combat gloves. The assassin was so remarkably geared-up, Mendez thought she was far more suited to infiltrate the White House than kill a cafe owner.

But that wasn the only thing Mendez saw as he peeked.

The assassin had someone as her human shield.


”Real strong and powerful with a gun on your hand, huh? ” taunted Morgan, only to be greeted with a pistol-whip across the face.

”Shut your mouth! ” shouted the assassin to Morgan. Morgan was still conscious, to which Mendez was slightly relieved. Mendez was worried hed have to give the assassin more than just a beatdown.

Smart girl, Mendez thought to himself. Not only that Mendez have to go against a possibly well-trained assassin in a gunfight, he had to avoid hitting Morgan by accident. Not to mention his busted-up left arm, and the only option he had should a shootout happen: a UMP submachine gun, which required two working arms to operate.

Mendez was at a disadvantage.

”Come on out, Mendez! ” barked the lady assassin again. ”Ill count down to 1, and if you don come out, this girl gets it! ”

Not an empty threat, for sure. This assassin was prepared to do whatever it takes.

”5! ” counted the assassin. ”I don want to kill her, Mendez! Just come out and shell live! ”

But Ill die, Mendez thought to himself.

”4! ” counted the assassin again. ”Don worry, Ill make it quick! ”

A shootout won work in Mendezs favor. Unless…

”3! ” barked the assassin. ”Didn know Id be dealing with a coward here, come on out! ”

”Rock, don ! ” wailed Morgan. ”Just promise me youll beat the shit out of her when shes done! ”

”Quiet! ” yelled the assassin. ”You want me to skip right to 1, huh?! ”

”Go right ahead! ” yelled Morgan back.

”You asked for it! ” snapped the assassin, her attention shifting towards Morgan. ”Got any last words, bitch!? ”

… unless there was no shootout.

None necessary, anyway.

For Morgan had given Mendez precisely what he needed.

A distraction.

Leaping across the car hood, Mendez charged straight at the lady assassin.

As he sprinted towards the assassin, Mendez noticed his target turning her head–and her aim–to his direction, registering his sudden move.

At that point, he couldve sworn he heard the pistol being fired. Twice. Thrice.

At that point, he shouldve felt pain.

At that point, he shouldve collapsed.

But he didn .

It was all drowned out by pure adrenaline rushing through Mendezs system.

He won stop unless his body says so.

As Mendez got within an arms reach to both the assassin and Morgan, he curled his right hand into a fist.

Not a moment later, he launched his fist towards the assassins exposed head.

Shooting her head cleanly without risking hitting Morgan from where he was earlier was hard. It was disadvantageous. But throwing a well-placed punch to her face up close? Sure, hed risk getting shot multiple times, but at least Mendez didn have to worry about inadvertently hitting–or at the very least, killing–Morgan in the process.

And luckily enough for Mendez, the fist found its target.

It landed square on the assassins nose.

He can feel it.

The skull cracking under his knuckle. Blood pouring on Mendezs fingers. The assassins nose bone getting bent out of shape from the impact. The force from the jab shoving the assassin backwards violently. It was short, but it was sweet, and Mendez knew it.

The blow sent the assassin staggering backwards, all the way through the cafe entrance and back into the cafe.

Mendez can sense Morgan getting knocked off the assassins grasp, stumbling towards his right as he struck the assassin square on her face.

He strolled forward. The assassin was not out. Not yet. Time to make sure she is.

Mendez noticed the M1911 pistol still intact. Ideally it would be beneficial for Mendez to try and disarm the assassin, as hed done twice before.

However, this time, hed like to try something different. Something to spice things up a bit.

With a swift motion, Mendez launched his sole at the assassins torso, kicking her backwards and sending her crashing against barista counter right behind her.

Apparently it was a hard impact, as Mendez faintly heard crockery and cutlery falling to the floor, making loud shattering noises upon impact. He also noticed stacks of cups and glasses groggily shaking, getting their balance disturbed.

Glasses might have fallen, and so did the assassins pistol, but she hasn .

Taking a few other steps forward, Mendez approached the assassin and swung a wide right haymaker at the assassins face to finish the job.

But it hit nothing.

The hook whiffed and missed its mark. The assassin had ducked under it. And before Mendez knew it, he was being counter-struck–jab to his right hip–another slightly above it–then one across his right jaw–then one more square on his nose, each more painful than the last.

That last one knocked Mendez off-balance and sent him staggering backwards. Mendez got his bearings almost instantly, but not quick enough to react to another barrage of the assassins strikes.

Not a strike, per se. But still enough to send some damage his way.

Instead, the assassin pressed her right thumb against Mendezs bullet wound. The very same one she inflicted on Mendez earlier.

A thousand jolts of pain was sent up through his system. His body was drenched an excruciatingly painful shock. It was as if a small dormant volcano in his left arm had awaken and erupted, only 10 times stronger and hotter than before. This isn hot, this feels more like someone jammed a still-sizzling red-hot fire poker into his left arm.

But while his body was sending red alert signals all over the place, Mendezs eyes saw something else.

He saw the assassins left fist being launched at his face–taking the full force of the impact. His head jerked violently to the left side, Mendez could feel his jaw and cheek feeling all mushy and gooey, while also sensing some fluid escaping from his mouth–something thicker than spit.

Mendez took the jab across his face yet again, but his brain whirred faster than before.

Shot and hit him with her right trigger finger. Held the gun with her right.

Chances are, her dominant hand is her right.

And so what if shes ambidextrous, anyway? Her right hand can do much right now, its being used to jam her thumb into Mendezs gunshot wound anyway.

”Any last words before I put you down? ” growled the assassin as she launched her left fist.

It was blocked.

”Not really, no, ” answered Mendez with a cackle. ”What about you? ”

Wrapping his right arm around the assassins left, Mendez reared his head backwards and launched it square at her face.

She was knocked down to the floor, stunned. Her thumb was released from Mendezs wound with a painful schlob. He felt that, but if anything, it was like fuel to the adrenaline fire raging inside of him.

Mendez hovered above her and jabbed her across the face. Then another.

But he didn go for the third.

Instead, he shifted upwards, raised his foot, then aimed it at the assassins face.

Without hesitation, he sent it down. Hard. Like hammer to a nail.

Taking his foot of the assassins head, Mendez looked at the aftermath.

She was out cold. Down for the count. But more importantly, it looked like she was beaten to a pulp. Never mind blood drizzling from her nose, bluish bruises was visible on her left cheek, her forehead peppered with deep bruise marks and blood, and her whats visible of her teeth, Mendez couldve sworn it was… chipped off.

If its any consolation, she gave almost as good as she got, thought Mendez as he leaned on the barista counter, sliding down into a sitting position.

A lone familiar figure appeared in front of him.


Her ponytail was amazingly still intact, although her appearance had become noticeably more rugged. Her hair and bangs looked slightly frazzled and out of place, and her face dirtier with a bruise visible on her right cheek, courtesy of the assassins pistol whip earlier.

”Rock… ” she gasped with a start. ”… you
e… hurt. ”

In reference to the profusely bleeding left arm, of course. Mendez knew the bullet went clean through though, so thats one less thing to worry about.

”Not as bad as it looks, don worry about it, ” replied Mendez reassuringly. ”Didn sever any artery I guess, so Ill be fine. ”

As Morgan took another step, Mendez halted her. ”Do me a favor–well actually, two favors–please? ”

”Kick her gun this way and search her for her phone, if shes got one. ”

After kicking the gun Mendezs way, Morgan rummaged through the assassins many pockets before finally pulling out a sleek black smartphone.

”Toss it here, will you? ”

Morgan tossed the phone in a low arc. Mendez caught it with his right hand.

”Thanks, and that makes three favors, sorry about that, ” remarked Mendez as he powered the phone up and tapped the screen. ”Ah, we may have a problem. ”

Mendez half-expected Morgan to respond, but he noticed she was still in the process of taking in the catastrophe that had just happened, too astonished to hear what Mendez had said.

”Phones lo–hold up, ” said Mendez interrupting himself.

After turning off the phone, Mendez noticed a pattern on the black screen–an intricate trace of someones finger, older than his own fingerprint. This mustve been the pattern to unlock the phone, the one used to open the security lock he encountered earlier.

One try later, the phone opened. Mendez went straight to the phonebook.

On the very top of the list of recently received calls was a familiar set of numbers.

That is, the number he acquired from the two shootists from the convenience store.

So its true. Someones been hiring assassins to take him down. Someone, or some group, wanted him removed from the face of the earth.

But hey, it could be worse. At least it was just one party that wanted him dead. Not different groups of people wanting him killed. Still begs the question, though: whod want him dead? Him, a mere cafe owner? Mendez didn have an inkling of any rival cafe owners that hated him so much theyd rather kill him. What could he possibly done so wrong as a cafe owner to piss someone off that bad?

Unless, of course, someone knew him more than a mere cafe owner.

Mendez chuckled at the idea. Time to find some answers.

But first things first.

”Uh, Morgan, ” Mendez called out his business partner. ”Got a bandage? ”

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