A Deal With The Devil
Two days later Jordan returned to physical therapy. She had missed the first day because Kurt had sat her down and demanded she tell him everything on her mind, in her heart. It had proven to be a painfully emotional experience for both after which all she could manage was to sleep for the next 12 hours with Kurt by her side. Taylor had come home from her trip but left again almost immediately when no one would tell her why her mother had slept for nearly a full day. Jordan knew she would have to face her daughter eventually but was secretly grateful for the time to work through her explanation.
On the second day, she had attended a group therapy session for victims of violent crimes, an agreed upon term of her release by Dr. Buckler. Many in the group had suffered terrible atrocities at the hands of someone they knew, something Jordan could easily relate to. Most had no idea why they were targeted and lived in fear that their attacker may return, also relatable. When she spoke, it had felt good to express her fears without judgment, though she had to tweak a few details of the encounter.
Jordan was definitely ready to burn off some tension when she entered the therapy room. Before she could get three feet in the door, David greeted her with unbridled, if somewhat unprofessional enthusiasm. He had run up to her and swept her into the biggest bear hug he thought she could handle! David spun her around the room a few times before setting her on the feet with a light punch on the chin.
“Glad to see you kid!” He teased her, as he was barely two years older than she. “You’re feeling better?” He asked with a touch of concern.
“I’m getting there.” She replied honestly. “Thanks, by the way. For… you know…” David waved his hand dismissively before leading her to the machines.
“No thanks needed. One of my official ‘best man duties’ is to make sure the bride gets to the altar without suffering a severe mental break.”
“We definitely owe you a good groomsman gift.”
“I like cash…” He whispered to her with a wink before becoming all business. “Now get to work! You’ve been slacking for two days.”
In reality, David ended up going quite easy on her, not wanting to tire her out on her first day back. They mostly worked on stretches and resistance bands before he sent her home with specific instructions to ice since her muscles would be sore after spending two days mostly in bed. As she headed to her car, she noticed a figure leaning casually against it. The closer she got, the more she wanted to run in the opposite direction. It was him.
“Hello, Jordan. My, but it has been awhile. You look good.”
She simply stared at him in shock and fear. Was he here to kill her, in broad daylight? She wasn’t ready to face him, ready to fight. He eyed her quietly letting the moment sink in.
“Nice truck you have here. I especially like the footstep. Have trouble getting in do you? That pesky shoulder still bothering you?” Jordan frowned at him. He knew exactly why she needed the footstep, knew all about her shoulder, as he was the one who ruined it.
“What are you doing here?” She demanded, ignoring his casual greeting and phony concern. He sneered at her but retained his casual posture as he pushed off the car and stood up. He straightened his suit coat before he addressed her again.
“Straight to business then.” He said mostly to himself. “I have a small proposition for you.”
“You’re here to make me a deal?”
“Yes; unless you would like to fight? It seems the past few months have been kinder to me than they have to you, darling.” His accent became more apparent when he called her “darling”, belying that very deceptive southern charm.
“I don’t want to fight. I’m done fighting.”
“What about your team?” She scowled at him as she gathered enough courage to come closer.
“I’m sure you’ve heard that there is no team anymore.That's what you wanted, isn't it?”
“I hear that the 11:59 have been mysteriously inactive over the past few months. Crime rate too low?”
“I told you. I’m done fighting. What’s the deal?”
“You have grown irritable as of late.” He responded with a slight chuckle. “I have some very sensitive business to care for here in the city; Business that needs to proceed without intervention. If you and your ‘friends’ can manage to lay low for a few more days, I might consider letting this whole thing between us go.”
“Just like that?”
“You don’t trust me? Smart girl. But really what choice do you have? I can clearly come for you whenever and wherever; same goes for your family. I’m offering you a risk free solution.”
“How do I know you won’t still try to capture us later?”
“You don’t.” He shrugged. “But to level with you, it seems beneath me to get my hands dirty trying to bring you all in. I’m more suited for business dealings than fisticuffs. I had a lot of time to think when your sister buried me.”
“No less than you deserved.”
“Indeed. My condolences about Julio.” He snapped at her with a toothy grin. She wanted to scorch that stupid smile off his face but she knew he was just trying to provoke her.
“Fine. I accept your terms.”
“It would be in your best interest not to cross me…” He told her seriously and she could see the blue sheen flash across his skin menacingly. He advanced on her at an alarming rate before being stopped by a steel katana pressed against his throat!
Quickstrike stood in front of her, the deadly blade keeping CLU out of arms reach. Her eyes were cold as she stared him down, determined to protect her friend at all costs.
“That’s close enough.” She growled. Even though she was barely 5’2, Emiko exuded a deadly confidence that few were willing to challenge. CLU backed down some trying to weigh out if he wouldn’t just kill Emiko anyway for sport. He seemed to decide against it as he turned to walk away.
“I mean it Jordan,” he tossed casually over his shoulder. “Do. NOT. Cross. Me.” Then he was gone in a swirling storm of nanites. Jordan let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding and stared at her friend.
“What are you doing here?” Emiko sheathed her sword and turned to face her.
“You haven’t answered my calls or texts in days. You missed two check-ins. I assumed something was wrong and came as soon as I could.”
Jordan nodded slowly, realizing that she had been somewhat out of touch lately. She tried to touch base with Emiko every other day as she was the biggest loner in the group and would disappear for weeks at a time if allowed to do so. Jordan couldn’t deny how relieved she was to see the woman. Without thinking she pulled Emiko in for a hug. The smaller girl tensed but eventually threw one arm noncommittally around Jordan’s waist.
“Anytime,” Emiko replied truthfully. “Anytime.”
Vasquez came charging through her office door without pausing for permission to enter. She had a stricken expression and was clutching an envelope tightly in one fist. Nona jumped up from her desk and closed the door behind her.
“What is it? You can’t just barge in here like that!” She hissed. Vasquez dismissed her and shoved the envelope into her hands.
“This couldn’t wait.” She raised an eyebrow towards the envelope and waited for Nona to open it. She did, pulling out what appeared to be a security photo. There in the center, clearly passing through the gates onto Colorado soil, was her worst nightmare.
“That photo was taken from security footage at D.I.A.”
“How the hell did he get back into the state? I thought your department had all travel locked down?”
“We did! But Darius Buchannan shows up as ‘presumed dead’ in our files and he flew in on a private jet which don’t require passenger manifests.”
Nona slammed the photo down on her desk and began pacing the room. It was bad enough just knowing he was alive. Now he was back in their city, too close for comfort. A terrifying thought occurred to her. Jordan! They had just pulled her back from the edge, this would surely send her toppling over and Nona had no desire to visit her sister in a mental institution.
“Have you shown this to my sister?”
“No, of course not. Last time we spoke you said she was in a rough place so I came here first.”
Nona nodded, thinking. She pushed past Vasquez to crack her office door. She peeked out and spotted her target.
“Rico!” She hissed through clenched teeth. He glanced up from what he was doing before heading over. When he reached the door, Nona dragged him inside.
“Nona! Vasquez? What’s with all the secrecy?”
Nona snatched the photo off her desk and handed it to him. His face shot from confused to angry in a heartbeat.
“This was taken here?” He growled. Vasquez nodded, slightly taken aback by the normally calm young man’s demeanor. “We need to find out what he’s doing here and drop him before the others find out.”
He purposefully avoided saying Jordan’s name, as he had for several months now, ever since her engagement had been finalized. He was still nursing a broken heart but couldn’t bear the thought of CLU hurting her like he had before.
“My thoughts exactly.” Nona replied. “Tell the boys we’re closing early.” She turned to Vasquez. “Can you use traffic cameras to track where CLU went after he left the airport, or where he might be now?” She shrugged, not liking where Nona was going with her current train of thought.
“Probably. But if I do that the department will have the same leads you do. I could stall them for maybe an hour or so but that would be it.” Nona nodded.
“That’s all we’ll need. This is strictly recon. I want to know what he’s doing here before I freak everybody out.”
Two hours later, Nona was running for her life as a jeep of foreign thugs blared down on her in an abandoned train yard! She had managed to keep her density thick enough to deflect the bullets being fired at her but the extra weight was slowing her down substantially. Vasquez had tracked the town car that picked up CLU at the airfield to this place. The original plan was simply for she and Rico to snoop around a little and try to get a feel for his plans. Unfortunately, they were slightly out of practice and were easily spotted.
She was running out of yard and energy. Where was he? Just as she stumbled, a sturdy hand wrapped itself around her forearm and pulled her up and away.
“You’re too heavy!” He huffed as he tried to ascend higher.
“Oh! Sorry.” She focused on returning to her normal density. “Better?”
“Yeah. Let’s get the hell out of here!” The men below were still firing on them and a stray bullet sliced across her forearm. She screamed but didn’t dare loosen her grip on Rico as he was flying at top speed to aid their retreat.
Down in the train yard, a solitary figure stood watching them disappear into the distance. His normally calm demeanor melted into a mask of fury. I warned you, Jordan. Now come the consequences, he thought.