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

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Chapter 20: STR1KE 2.0

Casey, Viola and I, stand in the hall of our living quarters in the bunker underneath the Black Lair Clubhouse. I point a lazer gun at Casey’s neck while Viola hides, I kid you not... right next to the lift doors.

The aim is that my position with Casey will draw the attention of our beasts. Viola would jump in with her silent grace and do as much damage as possible by distracting them while Casey and I fought our way out of this situation; that was only if everything went to shit.

“Well, mum,” Casey murmurs, kneeling in front of me while he toys with his white shirt, which compliments his blue jeans, “If we do have to kick their butts it’ll be somewhat poetic, don’t you think?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about and this is so not the time,” I growl at Casey as the small digital screen above the lift sparkles with the letters, HB... as the lift arrives.

It is a somewhat old design, so we have to wait a painstaking three long seconds for the doors to slowly open.

And ... when the metal slides across, I see four beasts so familiar, my heart instantly beats faster.

They looked exactly like the super soldiers I remembered.

But as they walk out of the lift, all their expressions are completely neutral and without natural emotion or recognition within their gazes.

They focus on me and Casey as we expect, and they take five uniform and very large steps towards us. They halt, unaware of V behind them, as they fish into their pockets for guns - which they throw unexpectedly onto the floor.

“Stop looking so scared,” Dale speaks, a little rougher than usual, but still pretty normal. I see his stained hand and all I can think of is a kid’s head ripped off their body, “We’re here to save you,” Dale speaks in a bit of a monotone that I’m not familiar with.

“I’m not taking this gun from Casey’s neck until you tell me what happened,” I respond like I’m playing along with their ‘normal’ actions and words.

“We were captured,” Dale explains, without a hint of... of... anything else... other than simple words leaving his mouth.

I wait for more of an explanation.

“...and?” I ask, slowly.

“We were captured,” Dale responds again, “Killed. Enhanced. Now we are weapons.”

“Killed?” I ask, gulping down my rising emotion, “Dale... I’m pregnant,” as I say the words - Casey gasps.

Even V almost loses her demeanour by the lifts.

When Dale and the other beasts simply stare and do not react - my heart sinks.

“Forgive the odd question. Were you programmed about Delta 206?” Dale asks.

“Casey, we’re in trouble,” I whisper, my Ultimate mind switching on.

These were not men.

They were machines with an objective only.

If I answered Dale’s question wrong, who knows what will happen next?

“Dad,” Casey speaks up, clearing his throat.

“Don’t talk,” Dale snaps, his eyes suddenly furious as he glares down at Casey, “You will come with us.”

“Alyssa?” Casey whispers.

“She will answer,” Dale also snaps this.

“Delta 206?” I ask, “I have...” I decide to be honest, “I have never heard of -”

That seems to be the only part of the response they need.

Each beast starts to stalk forward, leaning down to pick up the guns.

“Alyssa!” Casey jumps to his feet, “Get back!” he literally shoves me backward before he turns and barrels into Dale, while V shrieks out as she runs in from behind them, sliding through with two knives in her hands.

As Ace manages to pick up a gun and Serge and Jose are distracted with V, who swipes at their legs and dodges their attempts to grab her - Dale is preoccupied with Casey in a brawl. Ace shoots at me a couple of times and as I drop my lazer gun to the floor, I raise my hand, deflecting three bullets directed at my chest. One bullet, however, skims past my arm and I halt - ready to be at the mercy of yet more bullets.

However, this time Casey pulls back into the line of Ace’s range and the next bullet collides with his shoulder as he takes the fire. Casey shoves Dale back into Serge and Jose - and V stumbles to her feet after only holding them off for a couple of seconds.

Dale, Jose and Serge turn to V - ready to slaughter her.

Clearly they did not intend to harm Casey, even if he attacked them.

Casey tries yelling out, “Stop!” hoping his mind control will work.

It doesn’t.

“V!” I go to run forward, but as I do... the lights around me suddenly dim.

And everyone seems to go still and silent.

As my eyes adjust, I see each robotic beast freeze mid stride - even Ace is frozen mid trigger pull.

Casey stands with his bleeding shoulder while V slips out of her corner to run into Casey’s arms. I lay my hand on my stomach, feeling sick and scared for my baby when the darkness lingers and possibilities sort through my mind.

As we all wait in prolonged silence for bad news - we all hear the rattle and pull of the lift... rising to ground [G]... and returning to home base [HB].

I stand with Casey as we watch in a fascinated kind of hope... perhaps... perhaps hoping that it could be some kind of miracle?

As the lift doors open, the lights turn back on.

Was it Blue?

Was it -?

No.

My hand clenches on my stomach in fright as I see the tall menacing monster - silver hair perfect and lethal - black suit tight and untouchable.

The endless black eyes.

The... smile?

“Hacksaw?” I whisper while V slips to hide behind Casey and our nightmare strolls out holding a square device in his hand.

“I am officially a burglar of the military,” Hacksaw shrugs and speaks casually, like we’re long lost friends, “They’re not exactly tuned in - but their nearly at full capacity to be just like the men you remember. I didn’t have it in me to steal them back for you to kill... I thought these would be enough.”

“What are you talking about?” I ask, quietly.

“Oh, you don’t know anything?” Hacksaw asks, pretending to sound shocked... but he’s actually really smug, “Your playthings, Sammy - were captured and used to bring some life into these... weapons... without a heart,” Hacksaw slowly rises his hand to his chest, “A heart, is the most powerful thing, Sammy. The scientists in Atlantis were too stupid to realise that.”

“Is STRIKE alive?” Casey asks, outright... before he slowly smirks “...Dad?”

"Casey,” I warn him, with a low growl... but Hacksaw picks up on the mention straight away.

“Well, you’ve grown from a little brat into a solid young soldier, haven’t you?” Hacksaw asks, “And now I’m curious, young Casey - what you meant by that last comment.”

"Dad? Oh, nothing,” Casey can’t help but be a smart ass and smile. But when I glance at Viola she is trembling behind him, trying to convey to me her absolute fear.

But I knew why. She used to be Hacksaw’s sidekick - until he threw her off a building onto STR1KE’s bonnet, trying to break her back.

“Sammy?” Hacksaw asks me instead.

“I’m not Sammy, I’m Alyssa,” I speak carefully again, “And Casey likes to tease others... while.. he... um... grows into his Ultimate mind.”

“...sure,” Hacksaw drawls off while his gaze focuses on mine completely.

I am admittedly very calm in this moment.

Because, let’s be honest, one snap of Hacksaw’s temper and we were all dead meat.

V knew it.

I knew it.

Casey? He was a cocky idiot right now, probably a little excited about meeting his flesh and blood again. But I had to remember he was still young, even with his forced physical change into an adult.

“I don’t want panic,” Hacksaw, again, speaks calm and without emotion, “Let us all share a drink?”

“A drink for what?” I ask, politely.

“To a fresh start,” Hacksaw replies, “And long love, Sammy... love and life.”

Wow.

No fucking wonder I was a weapon - he could be a psychopathic slaughterer and then a beloved lover with my mere fucking presence.

Which just made it all the more creepy, to be perfectly honest.

“Drinks? Ah, o-okay,” I shrug - I’d play along for my baby.

Fighting right now wouldn’t help and I’d probably end up dead or worse.

“...great idea, mum,” Casey murmurs, glancing to me with suspicion.

“To a new start,” I shrug, “Right, Louis?”

“I knew I’d be welcomed,” Hacksaw suddenly closes the distance, leaning in to me, he pauses to catch my eye... he shows me a look of pure natural menace... or perhaps it was just pure intention... and then he leans in... and Hacksaw kisses my cheek.

I try not to flinch as he pulls back and stalks his way through to the kitchen.

I turn to Casey and V and we all share wide eyes before Casey and I shrug, while V keeps behind Casey at all times.

“I’ll keep him calm,” I whisper with my hands and Casey nods as does Viola, “Let’s go.”

“The kids can play video games,” Hacksaw yells out from the kitchen, “I want you alone, Sammy!”

“...go,” I nod to Casey and V and they take the opportunity to plan something in the other room.

“We got your back, mum,” Casey pats my head in reassurance... my hair slithers against his skin and no cuts appear.

We found out that handy fact two weeks ago, hence why Casey probably looked into his biological makeup more thoroughly at that time.

I guess I was wrong to assume I had two friends and a baby to protect. I had two kids, Casey and lil’ lightning in my belly as well as Viola as my loyal friend.

And... yep... that’s correct... I referred to my baby occasionally as lil’ lightning.

Nope, I wasn’t sure if it was Serge’s, but he was the last to pound my pussy... so...

...my gosh, it was so not the time to think of my betraying beasts and their cocks right now.

I had a butchering insane psycho in the kitchen waiting for me.

I turn towards the arched kitchen entrance now and I suck up my fear as I decide to roll with this. There was nothing else I could do. I walk into the room, feigning confidence as I clasp my hands behind my back and face Hacksaw... who sits at the table, his hands spread out over the wood... and he taps all his fingers... which chip little bits of the wood away.

“...nervous habit,” Hacksaw explains in a low growl, surprisingly calm, again.

“...it’s okay,” I shrug and quickly walk forward to grab a chair, pulling it out to sit opposite him, “So...” I wriggle my own nervous butt and get comfortable as I clasp my hands under my chin while I face my lover from another life, “Why don’t we talk about why you’re here? Why now?”

“I watch everything,” Hacksaw answers, almost solemnly, “Every single breath you take... I see it, even when I close my eyes,” wow, now he was being poetic... and I admit my heart thumps for a split second... “But, truly,” he quickly changes his tone, “I believe in peace, I do,” oh, yeah fucking right, peace, my ass! “I wanted to surprise you with STRIKE... 2.0 - I knew they would make you smile.”

“Oh...-”

“Let me explain, Sammy,” Hacksaw holds up his palm, silencing me, “It’s my offer of a truce...” he sighs long and hard before adding, “...not just a truce. It’s more like a ceasefire. I don’t want to kill any more, searching for answers... when you’re right here. Now, I just require some of your time.”

“Are you an insane kind of madness or an insane kind of genius... or both?” I ask, pretending to flirt, just a little - to keep him calm and talking.

My heart, in all honesty, was now thumping for another reason.

Hacksaw, in my honest, Ultimate opinion... truly meant what he said.

The only danger was to lil’ lightning.

My baby girl, belonging to a member of STRIKE - would ruin Hacksaw’s brief show of compromise. I had no doubt - the baby would die and me too, if he found out that I was now that interconnected to the beasts he disapproved of so incessantly.

“We are literally at the edge of the world,” I try to relax my shoulders as I hold his gaze, “You have my full attention.”

“Then I will be honest,” Hacksaw starts smooth... before pausing to consider his words... and he looks anywhere around the room than at me as he grumbles, reluctantly, “I know you will want to know... your beasts are alive... and I let them live so you would not hate me at the beginning. But by bringing the 2.0 team, you would see their faces... so yes,” he looks back at me, “I guess I am a little bit mad... in a not so bad way... it’s only because your face takes up my dreams, my heart, my thoughts and... my body. Every inch of it.”

I did not need to know that last part.

Again, I try not to cringe.

“Perhaps it’s good we start fresh,” I add, “You... um... what do you expect now?”

“Union,” Hacksaw nods, “At your pace, darling... my darling, darling girl... you are everything I’ve been hoping for. You are my world, Sammy. Perhaps we can be each other’s. As you can see - I am meeting you half way.”

“I am a little overwhelmed...” I admit, “By your... ability to change your mind so quickly.”

“I have never changed my mind,” Hacksaw growls out of the blue, “You are my life - you are everything to me.”

I hate myself in this moment.

I hate that I actually relate to him - in a backwards manner.

I was everything to him as STRIKE were everything to me. And I was not going to fall in love with a butcherer as I had seen him before. But I could never tell him that. I could never tell him I was designed to kill him - that I was his greatest vulnerability.

“So,” I add, “You might want some whiskey,” I point behind him to a liquor cabinet.

“Great idea,” Hacksaw slips out of his chair, standing, he turns gracefully for the alcohol. As he grabs some whiskey, he spins back to me, genuinely smiling... while there is a cough at the door.

“Sorry to intrude...” Casey pokes his head in, “Code Asshole is a go, mum,” Casey nods and walks away... while I stare at him and then his quick absence in shock and confusion.

Four weeks ago I told him if STRIKE were coming back, and he found out... he could say Code Asshole.

It was a joke.

But now I turn to Hacksaw as he screws off the lid and takes a swig before handing the bottle to me.

I take it from him and I watch as his eyes gaze into mine, as if he is completely unaware of Casey’s coded speech.

I could make Louis stay... if STRIKE were really here - along with their machine versions... as this was our best chance to kill Hacksaw.

But, my mind reels.

And I seem to have a moment of insanity.

No - I don’t drink the whiskey. I simply hold the neck of the bottle, while Hacksaw gazes on at me in adoration.

The thing is... maybe it was because I was pregnant and Casey was now my official son... but... Casey called Hacksaw dad.

This, for some reason, sticks with me.

Casey had shown a moment of truth - in his desire for a real family.

And that is why I tell Hacksaw the truth, “Hacksaw, if I tell you to stay, I would be fulfilling my purpose as I was made... I was made to kill you,” as I tell him this, his eyes quickly lose the warmth they once had, “Before you lose it, you need to know you have a child... and you need to leave.”

“...what the hell are you talking about?” Hacksaw asks me, in a whisper so quiet, I’m not sure if he is just shocked - or he is about to snap.

“Louis,” I breathe his name, “You need to leave - if you want to see me again, you need to leave right now.”

“I can stay -”

“If you stay, you’ll die,” I answer, honestly, “You need to go. You have a son to live for now. And I want you to know, that I acknowledge your pain in that you lost Sammy... but I am Alyssa... and I have her body and maybe even her brain... but if you want me to love you one day, then you need to leave. I may not be Sammy right now, but you need to believe in that feeling... that you were loved, entirely,” I try to speak to the man in him, not the monster, and to my unexpected relief... he listens without interrupting or losing his temper, “Louis - Sammy has your heart. And there is a boy out there who has your genes as I have Sammy’s. But he has our genes mixed. I can not tell you who the boy is, but -”

“The little brat,” Hacksaw murmurs... his eyes clouding over.

So, he hadn’t forgotten Casey’s term of dad too quickly.

“Louis -”

“I will take my leave,” Hacksaw turns to me, slowly pointing a finger at my chest, “Next time, you will come to me,” Hacksaw growls this, low, “You will come by the next full moon or I will chain you to my side. You must give me something or I will lose everything, Alyssa,” as Hacksaw admits my real name, I see him cringe physically with the admission. I even gawk, as he suddenly turns... and his eyes glaze over... with wetness... legitimate tears.

He stalks by to leave.

“Louis?”

"Do not disappoint me again,” Hacksaw snarls out without looking back at me as he stalks into the hall and beyond, “I am sick of waiting for nothing. Deliver me your heart or I will take it, Alyssa!” he sing songs this like a crazed fucker at the end and it makes my spine crawl.

Deep down, I know it’s just a threat to make me act - because he is desperate for my attention.

But, something miraculous has happened, too.

He heard me.

He trusted me.

It was odd, but it wasn’t too bad.

I put the whiskey bottle on the table as I hear the lift doors open and close. Hacksaw leaves.

V and Casey come running into the kitchen and towards the fridge, celebrating with ice cream now that I got an infamous psycho to get up and go... but I barely acknowledge them as I look up at the ceiling, my hand on my stomach.

“...they’re back!” Casey woots to V while I think too many things at once.

If the real STRIKE were back I had to kick their fucking asses.

And, Hacksaw was... was in the most messed up way... pulling at my heart strings.

Sort of.

I felt intense empathy and understanding for his pain of losing a loved one.

But.

Lil’ lightning was in trouble.

Louis couldn’t know she existed.

As for STRIKE?

The ones who broke my fucking heart and threw my loyalty into a fucking bin...?!

“Where are they?” I ask, bored as I slouch in my chair and close my eyes in acceptance of my growing rage.

I had no direct answers yet.

“They came through the transpendiser, what else?” Casey says, while I continue to close my eyes.

“Really, right fucking now?” I ask.

“Yes!” Casey and V yell at me, “You have to tell them you’re pregnant -” Casey adds and I jerk upright, glaring at him.

"Don’t you dare tell them, it’s for me to say,” I quickly cut him off while V looks hurt and irritated at my grouchiness as she bites into a chocolate coated ice cream, probably a year off it’s expiration date.

“Fine,” Casey growls back at me while eating half his ice cream in one bite.

“Fine,” V also adds, licking hers while narrowing her eyes at me.

“Why are they back?” I ask, ignoring their defiance, “And please tell me they’re not part machine.”

“Obviously they formulated an amazing escape plan, let’s just wait for them to come out of that lift and then we’ll ask them what their adventures have been...” Casey suggests, “With nice, respectful and loving questions,” I love how he’s more of a smart ass every day that passes.

Not.

“You’re a mean drunk,” I growl back, as a joke... before I pause my breathing... and we all hear the lift doors slide open again.

While V grins, Casey smiles... and my ears prick... as we all wait for a sign it’s our real beasts.

“Holy shit!” It’s Ace’s voice from the hall, “Wowy... I’m so handsome! Look at my face, boss! I should caress my own butt - just to see what it feels like when Lightning molests me in my sleep -” he yelps out as we all hear a crack of lightning in the air and a barrage of swearing and growling between one another.

I literally smack my palm to my forehead, while my right hand reaches for the whiskey bottle and I grab the neck of it... so... so fucking tempted.

But, I hold off and just decide to hold it - it was a great way to get rid of any suspicion of pregnancy. I didn’t have to drink, i just had to hold the bottle like I am already.

Now... I had a really tough decision to make.

Which beast’s thick skull I’d crack this glass bottle over.

Well... it was pretty hard to decide.

Dale seemed like a pretty good fucking pick right about now.

Feelings of betrayal flood me as I hear their banter get louder before they enter the kitchen.

Argh, it would be seen as such a shame, really. It’d be a damn right waste of alcohol in any occasion... but at least I’d see the funny side when the blood spilled.

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