Princess of the Shadows ➺ [FC Series Bk.2]

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Chapter 15: An Education in Blood

“...while it is easy for me to understand your thinking, madame, I don’t believe a bucket of water will wake a compelled female -”

“Do not call me madame. Call me general. She must awaken soon, for questioning over Reuben’s death, please, Lumen.”

“She did not kill the President’s only son.”

“Then who else would leave him with two thousand cuts to his body, paper thin?”

“Well, maybe it was her.”

“You’ll do well to cut the bull shit and do what we tell you, old man - we hold the button to that explosive in your head. Soon, there will be one in hers too.”

“Why would you damage the goods, general? She is a military grade weapon waiting to happen.”

“At this time, my options are limited. The best case scenario is that I see to it that she’s incinerated for murder unless your creature will conform to our needs.”

“She was brought here for a reason!”

“A reason yet to be discerned. We have the brightest minds in our Avalon army, she is just... a whore, of sorts. Look at what she’s wearing. Not to mention her infamous past in the last Old World city. Does she have a mind for war or cocks? I would say the latter.”

“It is not just a bright mind, it is ingrained knowledge within her DNA that no one else possesses -”

“Ah, yes. Ingrained knowledge. Into weapons that were stolen soon after your other pets, Serge and Dale, were also stolen from our hold ten months ago. Dale could have helped us in the lab. However, now we only have you. It is one of the only reasons you may live. You have no bargaining tools, Lumen. The moment Alyssa wakens, call me. If you can come up with an actual interesting use for the whore - you can propose it to me when I return. Call me, Lumen! As soon as she wakes up!”

A door slams and I jerk, my head lolling forward and then back upright as my eyes blink open to a dull light... in a tiny library of some kind.

I am sitting on a chair, my hands cuffed to the metal arm rests and my ankles also shackled to the legs.

While my eyes adjust, I see a frail and malnourished man with silver streaked brown hair, sitting on a couch not three feet away. The book he holds reads Organics. Lumen slowly closes it and puts it aside.

“I knew you were awake,” Lumen murmurs, blinking a few times up at me before sighing and looking around the room, “I have not left this damn building in over a year - the security is too tight, not to mention the explosive in my head. Do you understand how that could make a genius mind like mine go insane with curiosity? I want to know what’s going on outside this damn place.”

“...why am I here? How did I get here?” I whisper, coughing as I shake my head to clear my foggy memory and clouded senses.

“An old enemy came to me for help,” Lumen answers, glancing over me, “You poor thing - so timid and fragile.”

“I am not fragile,” I hiss back automatically.

“But you’re not strong - rather shackled, as you are,” they are not Lumen’s words.

A voice behind me speaks.

I look over my shoulder and my forehead practically collides with a black suited torso.

Confused, I turn back around as my memories slowly come back.

Hacksaw.

Fuck.

“How you manage to be so illusive is beyond even my own knowledge,” Lumen sits back into the couch, looking apprehensive and somewhat frightened while looking over my head to gaze at Hacksaw.

“That is because my mere existence is beyond your existence,” Hacksaw replies in his gruff arrogant drawl, while a rough hand meets the top of my head and pets through it, “It is time.”

“Is the trade still on?” Lumen asks Hacksaw, “Because I will not answer -”

“You will answer everything!” Hacksaw snarls, “Starting with Sammy - tell her and tell me... why she was taken from me and what her purpose is.”

“I was not alive when she was taken, I wasn’t even alive a hundred years ago, do I look that ancient?” Lumen asks.

“Unlike the army dogs you created I do not enjoy small talk,” Hacksaw growls low, “Perhaps because I am superior - in every way. You know this all too well.”

Lumen’s eyebrows rise and as he meets my gaze, I simply look back, interested and terrified.

“...the trade?” I ask, lightly.

“Information for freedom,” Hacksaw explains, slowly trailing his hand from my hair to my cheek where he runs a thumb along my lips, “Do not speak - only Lumen will now. It is time.”

As Hacksaw states this again for the second time, Lumen breathes a heavy sigh, ready to speak.

“I have been questioned, for a year, why I created my ‘army dogs’,” Lumen starts, glancing at me and glancing away, “... STRIKE were not tools as much as they were innovation. It’s what DynaPrism stood for. Dynamism to strive for omnipotence. A savage hunger, which drives the members of DynaPrism to find ultimate knowledge and power through science. In the end, the fact the soldiers we created were threats were not overlooked. We decided they could be used against the New Worlds... but that was not their original reason for creation. Now, I agreed to complete honesty... I do not wish to be killed if you are angered by my words, Louis,” Lumen uses Hacksaw’s real name, and I feel his hand against my cheek stiffen.

“Continue,” Hacksaw snaps, “I don’t have all day to chat with a small minded psychopathic scientist.”

“The world has been three cities for some time now. FC was always controlled by New Worlds... but FC had it’s own menace leaking beneath the shit and trash covered streets. The Ghost Legend of FC. Hacksaw. While most believed him to be a myth, all government officials knew he was real. We covered most of his tracks to avoid panic. Do not be fooled, Alyssa -”

“Her name is Sammy!” Hacksaw buds in, and I jerk with his forcefulness but I bite my tongue.

“S-Sammy,” Lumen stutters, also influenced by Hacksaw’s terrifying charisma, “You must know, Louis is unmatched in intelligence. Unmatched in power. Unmatched in thought. He called me a psychopath but he is as dangerous as the devil himself. You will not know when he strikes, how he strikes - or how he strikes you down. So, we had to match him. First we created Serge - raw power. Jose, strength. Ace, precision. Dale - the Ultimate mind. I gave Dale, my son, a little push to outwit Hacksaw when the time came... I may have added in a heart. Enhanced passion. An enhanced need for justice. Unfortunately that passion was warped into a passion for power and I created a megalomaniac. I failed. So - I created you Alys - S-Sammy. What is Hacksaw’s greatest weakness if we can not match him on the field? A woman.”

“His lost love...” I murmur, furrowing my brows with the knowledge.

This was unexpected.

“A weakness?” Hacksaw questions, truly baffled by Lumen’s words.

“You went insane when she was taken from you,” Lumen adds.

“She is right here,” Hacksaw’s fingers almost claw into my cheek he is so rattled. I pull away, my heart beat accelerating while he is on the edge of losing it.

“I’ve done what I needed,” Lumen changes the topic quickly, clearly realising like me that Hacksaw was about to go nuts, “Get us out of here.”

“You haven’t finished,” Hacksaw growls, after an enormous pause, “...tell Sammy who she is.”

“An Ultimate. The same DNA as Sammy - enhanced, of course. There is nothing more to say about -”

“Tell Sammy who she is,” Hacksaw snarls, “Her memories - why are they gone?”

“Sammy wasn’t brought back to life, she was effectively cloned, I have told you this before,” Lumen snaps back, “Listen to logic, Louis - she is a replica of Sammy.”

“She is Sammy, she is,” Hacksaw sounds emotional, which wasn’t a good thing.

“How do I get my memories back?” I ask, winking at Lumen, hoping he understands that I’m trying to help.

“Ah... well... a few electrical jolts to the mind... may bring back images, if you’re lucky - perhaps whole memories, if you believe in miracles. You have imprinted DNA memories from Sammy, they are simply stagnant,” Lumen explains, instantly following my lead. He is so convincing I almost believe the lie.

“Serge can help,” I mention, “So all I need is for him to shock my brain?”

“Something like that,” Lumen answers quickly.

“I am not blind nor deaf,” Hacksaw answers dryly, his emotional state now gone, “I can see you both and hear both of your impatient tones to leave. I will kill them all until the way is clear.”

I let out a rattled breath when Hacksaw finally backs off and walks around the chair, heading for the door.

Abruptly, he leaves and slams the door back shut.

I watch as Lumen jumps to his feet and launches for my chair, to unlock my bindings. I watch in shock at how quick he manages to release me from the shackles.

“You have to get the hell out of here,” Lumen snaps at me, “Go - before he comes back.”

“I have never seen you so panicked, what’s the matter?” I ask.

“Go, Alyssa - now,” Lumen stands back, his face stern - his eyes clouded.

“Tell me,” I ask anyway and when he does not respond I take a step froward to come and stand in front of him, “I will scoop an eyeball out of your eye socket and laugh about it with Hacksaw when he returns if you don’t tell me what you’re holding back.”

“What I said before was truth, Alyssa!” Lumen breaks his cool confidence, and I believe his next panicked words, “Hacksaw may be the only man on this earth capable of executing three steps in a row - to basically guarantee the desecration of all the remaining humans on this planet. He will start a war - when he gets bored. He’s already started one for you and you were created to stop him. You’re not ready yet - you must escape... for all our sakes,” Lumen runs two hands through his hair, “You will also have to avoid him at all costs while you leave.”

“If STRIKE were created to bring down Hacksaw - how come they haven’t done it?” I ask, confused.

“Louis went very quiet with their creation and they’ve never crossed paths -”

“Hacksaw faced Dale when he stole me - to bring to you... for answers?” I ask, confused.

“Love, Alyssa - it drove him insane... you are his death if not his cure to insanity. No, your memories do not remain - that’s all bull shit, but you will have one memory of Sammy. You need that ring, Alyssa. The emerald on the gold ring that Dale keeps on his hand at all times. It is the key to Hacksaw’s downfall. Do you understand me?”

“Sure. See you around,” I turn to walk off but he runs to the door and holds it open for me.

“Allow me...” Lumen puts on a fake smile while I casually walk through to an empty cement hall.

“Hacksaw will kill you for letting me go,” I mention.

“By the time he returns, he will know that I have told the general of his presence and he will leave to find you,” Lumen shuts the door on me as he says this and I turn around. I’m still slightly disorientated even after all that discussion and time to come to.

Hacksaw - how could one man be the reason for so much complexity? For decades of thought processing to create four beasts to bring him down? Then a recreated lover?

This whole scenario was beyond my ability to comprehend.

It just didn’t seem right.

As I walk down the empty corridor, I see a stair well next to a lift.

I open the emergency exit doors and at first I see nothing of interest, until I descend the first line of stairs and something catches my eye.

A rope - hanging from the top stair well barrier, hanging down past many floors.

The rope is decorated, winding it’s way around the wrists, ankles, necks or any part of mangled bloodied bodies. Half bodies. Quarted bodies. Sliced through with what would appear to be a lazer... or it could be a single strand of Hacksaw’s hair.

Without even glancing twice at the dripping bloody meaty mess, I’ve turned and run back up the way I’ve just come.

I’m awake now.

And I’m changed.

The moment I slam open the stair doors I fall to my knees. I grab my throat, closing my eyes as I try to breathe, but I can’t hold it back. I throw up onto the cement hall.

I throw up multiple times before I shakily get to my feet and stumble to the lift. I press the button, my hand on my rolling stomach as the lift slowly ascends to me.

The moment it reaches my floor, the doors open and I see one body.

But it’s sliced in half.

Groin to skull - and it lies in two sections while the floor of the lift is pooling with blood.

It stinks of iron and shit. I hesitate so long, the lift doors almost shut in front of me.

I jump through at the last second, but my high heels slip in the blood. I fall to my side, gasping as I fall in the red mess.

The red dress I’m wearing just looks damp by the time I get back up to my feet.

I’m trembling all over as I press for the garage level. I don’t dare go to any other level.

However, as the lift descends, it slows towards G for Ground and eventually halts. I watch in terror as the lift doors open and a scene from a massacre appears before me.

Aside from the littered bodies of dead Avalonians, a woman with an arm literally cut off, stumbles into the lift and face plants in the pool of blood, passing out or dying from a heart attack, I’m not sure.

However, I see a black suited man a hundred yards away at the entrance to the sky scraper. He is smashing two guard’s heads together before laughing, deep and throaty while he kneels across them and tears off their heads... with his bare hands.

The lift doors click shut and a stupid ding signifies that we’ll be descending to the next level.

As the lift moves, I lean over to the woman’s pockets, searching for car keys.

I grab a silver electronic key and pounce out of the lift doors the moment they’re open to the garage.

This level is clean and empty.

It’s a typical garage under one of the many skyscrapers in Avalon.

Now, I press the alarm button on the car key - so I can locate the car.

The moment I find the silver box vehicle that matches the silver key, I turn off the alarm and I press for it to open but the window in front of me is asking for either face or finger print recognition.

“F-Fuck,” I literally whimper as I turn back to the lift, which is now obviously gone.

I run back towards it, my finger missing the button multiple times before making contact. As I wait, I’m convinced I will meet Hacksaw’s face any second and I’ll have no idea what I’ll do. However, I don’t expect the lift doors to open and for two security guards - whole but terrified, to be standing there alive.

“Are you crazy?” one asks me, “Run!”

“I just need that woman on the floor,” I explain, “I -”

“She’s that female,” the other security guard murmurs, “She’s the one that psychopath brought in here!” as he reaches for his gun, my instincts suddenly kick in.

I jump forward and grab the slower guard by the neck, to use him as leverage, I pierce his skin with my nails. They slide in further than I want and the blood that slips along my palm almost makes me heave again.

I gulp and try to stay calm.

“I - I’m like...” I’m about to say I am like Hacksaw, instead, I grasp onto the small advantage, “I was involved in this massacre,” I lie, “Run or I’ll have your blood next.”

The security guard that realises I’m not joking, loses his confidence as he sees what my nails can do. He drops his gun and runs while the one I’m holding actually grabs his own weapon.

While he raises it and pulls the trigger, a bullet flies through my dress - and collides with my hip.

I scream from the pain but I somehow keep standing as my hand automatically clenches and I end up ripping his throat out. Even through the pain, I slam my hand out to keep the lift doors from closing and then I reach down for the dead woman.

I grab her ankle and I drag her out.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper, whimpering in pain as I drag her towards her car. Once there, I press the window with my hand and then pick up her remaining arm. When I raise the palm - I realise it requires her other hand - which is no longer attached to her body. I lean down and pick her up with one arm, having to hold her awkwardly up, but her face is too bloody, “Why?” I yell to myself in frustration as I drop her down and kneel beside her.

Even while in extreme pain, I strip off a layer of my dress to wipe the blood from her face.

All the while I keep glancing up, waiting for Hacksaw to appear.

I was terrified I wouldn’t get away in time.

When the blood doesn’t entirely wipe clean I have to spit on the make shift rag and use that.

“I’m so sorry, I’m sorry,” I keep murmuring it as I pick her back up and try the face recognition again.

The car waits... processes... waits some more as if it needs time to think... and then the whole contraption roars to life and literally starts to hover above the ground.

I open the door, slide in with the key and take a seat while the screen flashes at me, ’emergency detected - destination automated to nearest hospital. Arrived.”

The car turns off and abruptly hits the ground once more.

“No, no, no!” I scream out and hit the steering wheel, “Stupid autodriver!”

I’m not sure how to manually drive these vehicles and this one was super advanced. I press all the big buttons until the car lights up... but it doesn’t roar to life. I accidentally turn on wipers, blinkers and even the sunroof above opens as I try to find the directory. I eventually find it and I type in what I think is the address for the Shadow Lair.

Instead of the car driving as I hoped it might - the car makes a phone call.

“You stupid piece of shit!” I yell to the car in frustration.

“Hello?” a voice answers on the other side.

“Who is this?” I yell, “Get me Dale - or one of his men. Or Jessica. Now!”

“Who’s speaking?”

“I’m in an emergency!” I scream, “It’s Alyssa! I’m new to the Shadow Lair - please, help me.”

“One moment,” as the phone goes on hold, I let out a shaky breath and slowly turn my head to the lift.

I expect it to be closed.

Instead - the doors are opening.

...and on the other side is my worst nightmare.

Hacksaw sees me the moment the phone call is redirected.

“Alyssa?” Oh thank fuck, it’s Dale.

“I’m in trouble,” I yell out in a panic, “Tell me how to drive a hovering car thing! Fuck!”

“It’s always the green button above your head on the ceiling, hold it for three seconds,” Dale explains, “Calm down Alyssa, whatever is happening - breathe.”

Clearly he can already hear me hyperventilating as I slam the button above my head.

I’m too frightened to even look out the window, the moment the car turns on, pedals appear below me and options to drive appear on a touch screen.

I slam the reverse button so hard, I almost shatter the screen - it cracks, a little. I then slam my foot down, reversing as quickly as I can,

The moment I hit the breaks, my window lines up with Hacksaw, who leans down and smiles... there’s blood in his teeth. He reaches up a hand and a single nail cuts out a line through the glass, he presses it lightly and it falls into my lap.

“You’re not ready - but that’s okay,” Hacksaw speaks gently now that I can hear him.

“O-Okay,” I nod way too many times while I slowly press the drive button and hit the accelerator, “Bye.”

As the car moves forward... Hacksaw lets me go.

“Alyssa?” Dale’s voice comes through the speakers and I shake with adrenaline and relief.

“See you soon,” I whisper, “I may be a little fucked up though. I may be a little... fucked in the head. So fucked, Dale. That was so fucked up."

“Breathe baby, drive, what’s your ETA? I’ll sort this out when you get back.”

“Dale - I just saw death and destruction on a scale I never thought possible. With diamond hair - my hair!” I scream this last part, “I keep thinking how easy that could have been my doing... they’ll blame me... they’ll blame me for the massacre!”

“You need to drive home to us and breathe... we’ll take care of you Alyssa, remember that... you are never alone. Breathe. Drive. I’ll always be here for you, kitten. Always. Now calm down. Clear your head. I’ll be waiting for you, I promise. Are you injured?”

“Oh my god! I’m in so much shock I forgot! I feel numb,” I answer rushed and in tears, “My hip was shot, it’s bleeding everywhere!”

“You won’t have to worry about losing too much blood but I’ll operate on you when you get back - you don’t want that to heal over with the bullet inside. Drive fast.”

“...thank you.”

“For what?”

“For actually sounding like you give a shit for once,” I hiccup on the word, laughing through my shock, “T-Thank you.”

“...you can count on me, kitten,” with Dale’s words, I hear a yell of complaint from Ace and some words from Jose and a growl from Serge. I was clearly on speaker but the other beast’s felt left out, “Sorry, my fucking bad. You can count on all of us, kitten... always. You know this.”

“O-okay... see you all soon,” I end the call and gulp down my tears, my hands grabbing the steering wheel tight.

While the quick conversation with Dale helps a little to get me to concentrate, my mind is still fixed upon the horrors I just witnessed.

Images of blood and destruction keep filtering through my mind.

What made it worse is I felt so helpless.

I felt so useless.

I felt so fearful.

I never wanted to feel that way again. I had to stop relying on my DNA instincts to protect myself... “I have to learn how to fight,” I whisper this in the empty car, already deciding there is no other option. After what I just witnessed - I needed to learn to protect not just myself but all the innocents around me. I had to learn how to fight.

There wasn’t a single word for Louis that was apt enough to describe him.

I guess that’s why they called him Hacksaw.

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