Chapter 10: Decoy
Heading into the silent headquarters and dark hallways, I sprint my way to the 24/7 monitoring team. They watched the city through cameras and organised the Five Reds behind the scenes. On the second level, through glass panes, is the ‘Media Office’ which is what they liked to call it so it didn’t come across as suspicious in any way.
I open the door, ready to smack Kyle’s giggling stupid face. He is surrounded by the Monitors, who congratulate him with big smiles and pats on his back.
“Hold up,” a nerdy voice interrupts the commotion. I do not advance from the door any further when a lab attendant tampering with the ring by a lab-table, interrupts the applause and congratulations for the Five Red’s member. Kyle’s face drops, he knows bad news is coming, “This isn’t the ring we need.”
My heart sinks as I hear this statement and I glare at the older man wearing glasses, inspecting the ring before everyone. A silence has ensued as everyone waits for an explanation.
“It’s fake, a decoy to distract from the real ring,” he explains, “We all had our suspicions and now they’ve come true. The real ring must be locked away somewhere safe in the Black Lair Clubhouse.”
“No!” Kyle whines, starting to cry.
It was odd to see a grown man cry so easily. The vaccine he had an allergic reaction too must have fried his tolerance for hard emotions of any kind, not just reduced his thinking to a three-year old’s capacity.
“It’s okay, buddy,” one woman pats him on the shoulder, “You nearly succeeded.”
“It was my mission!” I slam the door shut, catching everyone’s attention, “And I retrieved that ring; he stole it from me outside this building to claim the victory.”
“I’m sorry… who are you?” the older guy holding the ring looks at me with skepticism.
“I work here!” I complain, holding my hands out, “That was my mission and I do not appreciate Kyle getting the pat on the back when I nearly died getting that ring.”
“A fake ring,” the older man comes forward, “I’m Boris, please stand still so I can confirm your identity.”
Everyone is looking on at me in disbelief while I roll my eyes.
“Don’t roll your eyes, keep them still,” Boris scolds me as he approaches with a small black device, “I’m scanning your iris to confirm you work here.”
I stand still so he can do so.
His device lights up green and flashes my details.
“See?” I rub it in.
“I do,” he sounds shocked, “I’m so sorry… Alyssa, is it?… now… whether you or Kyle retrieved that ring or not is beside the point. We need triumphs in this city, not failures, nor half-complete missions. It’s the wrong ring, so you’ll need to find a way to retrieve the actual–”
“Give me a car, right now, from the garage,” I snap, cutting him off, “I know the vehicles are only for top agents but the Black Lair Clubhouse is unattended right now… I need to be there.”
There is a massive pause.
I assume the silence is due to the fact no one can quite believe my demands.
However, I soon notice their eyes dart behind me.
I look over my shoulder to see James the Brains about to enter.
I control my breathing, I was so over drama. I just wanted to complete my mission. I try to find some patience, digging deep for my zen. Eventually James swings open the door, so hard it nearly shatters.
I can’t control my palm instantly smacking to my forehead.
He was so dumb.
“Don’t look at me like that, Alysa,” for the hundredth time, he pronounces my name wrong, “You know you wanted me to smash it, but I do have some manners.”
“Why would I want you to smash –?”
“Tut-tut, new girl,” he winks, clasping his hands together as he addresses everyone here, “What does Alysa want? I’m curious.”
“I’m standing right here… you could ask me directly!” I point out, completely exasperated.
“Okay... what would you like, Al-?” I put up my hand, halting him before he says my name wrong, again.
“I want a car, now,” I snap.
“Why on earth do you need a car?” James decides to interrogate me further while I try not to go crazy with my thinning patience.
“You asked me what I want, that’s it. The Black Lair Clubhouse is unattended by the Gang of Shadows… I’ll do some exploring and try to find where the emerald ring is hidden.”
“How do you know it is unattended?” James asks, a mocking brow raised. He was pushing it.
I suddenly feel everyone’s eyes on me, though, clearly curious for my answer.
“Did you not see STRIKE drive past just before? Remember when you were mocking me about running inside when I saw it drive past? I was with them, they nearly killed me,” I snarl.
Gosh, he was forgetful, too, just perfect.
“You were ‘with’ them, were you? What does that mean, exactly… and how do you know they haven’t gone back to the Black Lair?” James asks.
I hated explaining myself to him but it needed to be done.
“They weren’t there in the first place… fuck… just listen… I need a car, please, check the city cameras, they are at my apartment block right now searching for me and trying to kill me. It’s the perfect opportunity for me to go to the Black Lair. It’s the last place they’ll expect to find me,” my face goes red as I talk so fast without coming up for air. I was desperate to get my point across.
“It’s okay, Alysa, calm, calm,” James goes to run a hand over my hair and halts at the last moment, giving me a sly look as he remembers how deadly sharp the strands are, “Someone give her a car; we have to let The Diamond Spy complete her mission.”
All that and finally I was getting some results.
Boris nods and turns to go get a set of keys.
I relax my shoulders.
James the Brains looks on at me with lusty eyes as I glance up at him.
“I’ll be impressed if you get back out alive,” he adds, “Only the strongest stay in the Five Reds.”
“I’m not a part of your five,” I hiss, “I am doing my job as a spy and nothing more.”
“I could get you a spot in our top five,” he whispers.
I just stare at him, in shock. Was he really that idiotic that he’d not know another member would make it six…not five?
“The Six Reds doesn’t have the same ring to it, James, darling,” I respond as condescendingly as possible.
“I love it,” he clasps his hands together, “You’re so un-expectantly feisty.”
“More like I’m smart and educated, well read and know how to do maths. Five plus one, being six?” I rub in his stupidity.
“Well… you know why I love feisty?” he asks, ignoring my latest snide remarks.
“No, and I don’t particularly care, either,” I reply quickly while looking over at Boris to see him finally making his way over to us.
“It gives me a reason to spank your ass nice and red, cupcake – just the way women love to be courted nowadays–”
Something inside me snaps and I turn to James, still dressed in his straw hat. I smile as I push up against him now, my chest to his chest. I pretend to do it seductively, while I place a hand low and slide it over his thigh, slowly slicing a nail through the skin near his groin.
“Don’t call me cupcake again or this nail is going to be slicing something else next time,” I whisper up at him in a dangerous tone. I then step back from him with a tight smile, happy to see the shock in his eyes.
It makes me stupidly happy that I managed to intimidate him.
“You’ll regret that threat…Diamond Spy,” James murmurs, suddenly no humour left in his tone. It is somewhat concerning, but I had bigger matters at hand now.
“Alyssa,” Boris calls my name and I turn to him, palm outstretched.
“Thank you, Boris,” I smile but he only gives me a sympathetic smile in return.
“I’m sorry to say I can only give your level of spy the smallest car we have,” he grimaces, while passing me the keys, “But we wish you the best of luck, you will be rewarded greatly if you succeed. Remember to call us if your life is in imminent danger so you can relay any details before you die, but we don’t think that will happen. We have faith in you.”
I take the keys and turn before my frustration passes onto the rest of the monitoring team.
Faith in me?
They didn’t even know who I was when I walked in the room. And I had seen these people at meetings before.
James steps aside but he has a menacing look in his eye as I shove past him out the door.
I had my purpose now, knowing that joining the Gang of Shadows was not a path I could consider anymore.
So, I wanted to prove my worth to all the Five Reds.
It was the only option I had.
The garage has provided me with a small, crappy car, with an undercover theme of ‘wanker’. It had scratches and dents, pink rims and a red deer nose on the bumper bar.
I feel like an idiot driving it up onto the road and along the way to the Black Lair Clubhouse. At least it was my own form of transport and hopefully it’d be my getaway car later on. It didn’t really matter what it looked like, as long as it served it’s purpose.
I had to hurry, it was already 3am.
However, as I’m about to arrive, turning down the last street, there is an unexpected distraction.
I see a muscled naked figure in the middle of the road, shadowed with a poking erection; sorry – straw hat.
I literally have to stop my mission for this idiot. Again. After all that useless talk in the Media Office. Now he wanted to slow down me down once more? I mean, why not? I come to a halt as James the Brains stands with hands on hips, in the middle of the road, directly in my path.
He was lucky the roads were dead at this time of night or I wouldn’t be the only one witnessing him looking like a complete fool.
He raises a hand, curling a finger for me to get out of the car.
He wanted to pick a fight? Fine. I turn the car off and jump out, slamming the door shut.
“What the hell do you want?” I ask, furious that he is getting in my way again.
I stand by my car and watch as James waltzes up to me, hands behind his back, chin raised as he winks at me.
“You’ll need my help, cupcake,” he explains, and I watch as he sticks out a toe and puts it under the bumper bar, lifting my car a few inches off the ground with no effort, “I must admit I’m offended you asked for a car… when you could have asked for my help. So, I thought I’d come track you down.”
“You get your friend Dash to drop you off?” I ask, with a raised brow.
“How did – yes… jee, you are bright, aren’t you?” he asks, scoffing under his breath. I watch as he now moves his foot beneath the bumper bar even further.
“Don’t you dare flip it,” I lower my tone, I can already guess that is what he wants to do.
“What?” he asks, kicking his foot up, I gasp as I watch my car seem to move as if in slow motion as it flies up in the air, slowly turning on it’s way back down. The car thumps back to the ground with a pathetic tin-like rattle, “I didn’t hear what you just said, Alysa.”
And now he had ruined my transport.
“It’s Alyssa for fucks sake, pronounce it right,” I hold my palms out, so majorly confused by his motives right now, “What the fuck do you want me to say, James?”
“I want you to apologise,” he turns to me now and I suddenly feel dwarfed as he approaches swiftly and with purpose. I try to stand my ground and he doesn’t halt until we are chest to chest in the middle of the street and I have to look far up into his stupidly squinty eyes.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper, “I’m sorry that you’re as dumb as you look and as dumb as you soun –”
I can’t finish as he slaps a hand up and over my mouth, clasping my lips shut.
“That’s not very nice, Alysa,” he scolds, “Try again.”
I was getting creepy vibes off him now, and I decide not to struggle, knowing he’ll take his hand off me quicker if I don’t.
I’m right, as after a few moments, he lowers his hand, giving me another chance to apologise.
“You’re not used to not getting what you want off women, are you?” I ask, quietly.
“That’s not an apology, cupcake,” he rolls his eyes, “How dense are you?”
“I’m dense?” I ask, taking a strategic step backwards, “Umm… I’m sorry James, for whatever it is I did wrong… I’m so sorry…” I try to leave the sarcasm out of my tone but it’s pretty hard to omit, “Can I be on my way now or do you want me to beg you for your forgiveness? I mean, I’m happy to, as long as you at some point leave me the hell alone. So tell me, if the apology isn’t enough; I can see in your eyes that it isn’t… what else do you want me to do Captain James?”
“I want you to know your place,” he smiles and I can’t help but feel he is the dumb version of Dale. A dumb, slow-witted, idiotic version. Not just that, but the vaccine-mutated fucked up version.
Right in this moment I decide to never take that bloody vaccine again, god knows what it was doing to my own brain.
“Right…” I murmur, in response to his words.
“You do know your place, don’t you?” he repeats, wanting to rub it in.
“My place is completing my mission,” I answer him, quickly, “Thank you so much for reminding me,” I smile, fake as all hell because he was seriously starting to piss me off with every word that came out of his pathetic mouth, “I’ll see you around at work, James, can you be kind and flip my car back onto its wheels… it was sort of going to be my getaway car. Time is ticking. Tick-tock… you know how clocks work, right?”
I couldn’t help but continue. He was just so easy to make fun of. Plus, my sass ran away with me sometimes. And it didn’t help that a certain gang had abducted me and influenced that attitude of mine to intensify.
For some reason the gang’s personalities were contagious and highly tempting to copy. They had made an impact on me as I think about how they would each personally react to James the Brains. I have great fun fantasising about what they’d choose to say.
And personally, I liked being this sassy.
It was so easy, especially when you were sharing banter with a lump of superhuman meat with a peanut sized brain.
“I know how clocks work,” he answers formally, his patience starting to thin.
“Why are you still standing here then?” I ask.
“I just… I wanted to know… will you go on a date with me sometime, Alysa?”
What the actual fuck?
This was not the time!
I even open my mouth to correct him about my name again, but now I can’t even be bothered.
“No,” I answer curtly, shaking my head.
“Please, Alysa, you’re so… intriguing,” he takes a step closer to me, closing the gap again. I try to take multiple steps back but he encroaches on me fast. As soon as he is able to, he grab my hips when he can and he lifts me up in the air, “Look,” he begs, “I’m strong, I can take care of you, give me a chance to show you how much fun I can be.”
“No –” I begin to tell him off when a flash of high beam headlights down the road bedazzles my vision. I squint until the high beam is suddenly switched off, and a black car solidifies from the fading light. It wasn’t just any black car, “James –” I hiss but he doesn’t let me finish.
“I’ve been told I’m not just fun… I know how to make a girl squeal… and I’m a good kisser, too,” he lowers me down slowly into his chest as he goes in for another kiss.
“Let me go!” I yell, raising my palm. I quickly remember, however, that slapping him won’t harm him nor stop him, so I don’t bother. His lips end up meeting my cheek with a slobby smack as I turn my head from him so he can’t kiss me on the lips.
I decide to grab his shoulders and dig my nails in tight.
“Oh, baby, I love that,” he sounds so smitten as he finally lets me go and licks his lips.
I turn from him instantly, aiming to run, but he just grabs my elbow, stopping me from departing.
“James,” I hiss, “Haven’t you seen the car –?”
“I’m not looking at cars, I’m looking at your beautiful face, I want you to give me a shot – just give me one kiss, one, please,” he pulls me in again and this time he quickly grabs both my wrists so I can’t fight him off.
He is trying desperately to keep me close and I don’t want to try it but this time I have no choice.
I raise my bare foot and kick it up, trying to get between his legs. I miss my target and my big toe nail just manages to slice his inner thigh open. It’s a shallow cut that heals quickly.
“Close, cupcake,” he mocks, “You should put your hand there, not your foot,” he has the audacity to act like I’m the stupid one. And then he starts using his super strength to force my hand down towards his straw hat.
He places my palm on the protruding straw and I feel something warm poking up underneath it.
“Stop it, please, James,” I feel myself turning hysterical now that I can’t stop him doing what he wants to me.
“Give me a chance –”
I’m done playing around.
I resort to the only options I had left, I scream and with as much force as I can muster, I head-butt him with my head, knowing my hair will slice his chest and it will really sting.
I’m suddenly free as he hisses from the pain, releasing me in that moment. I can see the betrayal in his eyes.
I turn and find myself running for the footpath.
Just as I’m about to jump onto the side walk from the road, I see a straw hat fly down next to my feet. It had been frisbeed through the air precisely to get in my way. My foot slams down on the hat and slips me backwards. I fall onto my side, scraping my elbow and hitting my knee on the concrete. My heart is beating so fast at this stage as I turn in terror to see James smiling, naked and arms crossed over his chest.
I’m simply in shock, I can’t move.
However, I wince in fright when I hear the sudden high rev of an engine.
My eyes dart to the black car, usually growling low, this time STRIKE is roaring as it picks up speed, flying down the road – straight for James the Brains.
He notices and his eyes widen. He attempts to dance a step back or two but there is a huge lightning bolt striking through the air, and it collides with the giant naked man.
It acts as a tazer on him and he collapses onto the ground.
I watch in fascination as STRIKE comes flying forward with precision, aiming to run over the Captain of the Five Reds.
Something this violent was too hard for me to watch and I have to close my eyes.
There is no impact as the roar of the engine flies by and my eyes flick back open. All I see is a limping James, who has barely crawled his way out of the car’s path, just in time.
He looks over his shoulder and in a rush of wind that flips my hair back, the young kid, Dash, appears from nowhere, collecting the Captain and heading off down the street..
I look down the road and spot the whole squad. Dash has stopped at a distant corner with the Captain out of harms way, with the other members of the Five.
I see Dash look back at me, ready to retrieve me as well.
I wait patiently, not sure if I want that to happen.
“Leave her!” I hear James’ voice echo down the street as he yells at Dash not to get me.
I’m too astounded to feel anything when I hear that. Lying where I was, STRIKE was doing a dramatic U-turn, coming back for me. Dash was still ready to save me. And I didn’t know what I needed more.
A Gang most likely ready to kill me, but also maybe, potentially going to save me from what just happened…?
Or Dash, who would return me to Captain James the fucking creep.
Except that James had ordered Dash to leave me.
I find myself, unbelievably, turning my back to the Five Reds so I face STRIKE instead.
It rumbles up beside me on the road and the back door opens as it comes to a stop.
Dale, like the ultimate villain of a superhero movie, gets out and looks down at me with both rage but also enlightened eyes.
I do not say anything.
I’m still in shock as he leans down and he puts a hand on my uninjured elbow, hauling me to my feet.
For a split moment as he holds me up, his tyrian purple eyes assess my condition.
“You hurt, kitten?” he asks, devoid of any emotion while he asks the dangerous question.
Dangerous because right now, I felt as if any answer I gave would be the wrong one.
I lick my lips and tremble before him, which seems to be the only thing he approves of.
“Get the whore in here,” Serge growls from inside the car, ruthlessly, making me jump in fright.
I turn to face Serge and I see he has a determined look in his eye to get some answers. It sends a shiver down my spine, however his words bring the answer to me.
“Whore? I am one talented virgin… c-clearly,” I shrug my shoulders, pretending to come off it lightly, but my words still waver.
Dale slowly smirks and then spins to the car, pulling me in front of him, he leads me in so I can’t escape. But I don’t try to, and I know he notes that as I slide in next to Serge.
“You enjoy being Jame’s bitch?” Serge asks directly.
“W-What?” I ask, hurt by his question.
“She’s not,” Dale suddenly snarls as he slides in and slams the door shut.
I cower between the two of them as Dale snaps his fingers at Jose to drive us off.
“Then what is the little lying slut up to, then?” Serge asks his boss, entertained when I dare to glare back at him.
“A new recruit for the Five Reds,” Dale smiles at me and I watch his hand, now empty of a ring at all, going for the gun in the back of his belt. My face drops as he pulls it out and pops it under my jaw without hesitation, sticking it up into my throat, “Answer me, Alyssa, with nothing but the truth.”
I nod into the gun, staring out at the road.
My heart feels like it skips a beat.
“Ah, uh, kitten, look at me,” Dale whispers and my eyes turn to meet his. I gulp as he presses the gun further into my skin, “Are you a spy for the Five Reds? You only have one shot at answering this question correctly, and then I decide what the trigger does... so think carefully.”
I think carefully.
This must be the moment when all the other Five Red spies before me, had met their fate.
I remember signing an agreement with the Five Reds; under no circumstances were we allowed to admit to anything.
Which means all the girls before me said no.
And now I knew my answer.
At least I prayed my logic was correct.
“Yes,” I answer, “I am.”
I blink once, without breaking Dale’s gaze, and a tear rolls down my cheek.
Dale lowers the gun.
“Black her out,” Dale abruptly orders Serge, without a hint of emotion.
I spin to look at Serge with desperation. However, all I see is a flash of blinding light before my eyes, accompanied with a crackle in the air.
My nerves pop.
My eyes snap shut.
I feel everything and nothing all at once.
And then I fall into unconsciousness.