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

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Chapter 21: Lil' Lightning

“Dad!” Casey hoots and runs past an applauding, grinning V as he barrels into Dale by the archway leading to the kitchen.

I keep facing the cabinets while I sit at the dining table, one hand around the bottle of whiskey and one on my stomach as I close my eyes. I inhale and exhale, one breath at a time.

“You’re still alive, well done,” Dale drawls in approval - obviously directing that statement towards all of us.

“Oh, holy goddess,” Ace whispers from somewhere behind me, hesitantly, “...oh... why is she ignoring us...?”

“She’s angry, obviously,” Serge growls back while I feel a hand rest on my shoulder, “I know a woman’s fury when I see it,” smart ass.

I wince a little in rejection from the hand on my shoulder but I refuse to look up and meet the eyes of the beast touching me.

“...doll?” it’s Jose, “...we’re back... are you okay?”

“Oh, kitten,” Ace calls out, skipping forward to place another hand on my other shoulder. He pauses and there is an awkward silence in the room before Ace also asks, “Why isn’t she purring... is there something wrong with her?”

“A clear malfunction of hormones from abrupt celibacy,” this deep octave drawl is from Dale - fucking Dale and his idea of an inappropriate and mocking joke.

It just about does it.

My eyes snap open and I straighten my back, placing a firm palm on the edge of the table, I push my chair back and shrug off the hands from my shoulders.

“Oh, you have no idea,” Casey chuckles to himself with the inside knowledge that I’m pregnant.

As I swivel around, I glare at V for smirking and Casey for looking sheepish.

“I have a gift for Dale,” I speak out, forcing on a very fake smile as I look over my beasts. Ace’s blonde head of hair and Serge’s light blue have both grown out and look typically disheveled. I just scoff and glare at a sunken eyed Jose who needs sleep and then I focus on Dale who stands back with a very smug Casey.

“Good girl for listening,” Dale speaks, his tyrian purple gaze unblinking as he looks me slowly up and down, “You stayed angry... and made a new outfit, I see. Have you been playing with my toys, Alyssa?”

“She’s been a depressed wreck, actually,” Casey tries to speak but I quickly glare at him.

“Weak,” Serge whispers with a genuine smile, while Ace elbows him with wriggly eyebrows, approving of the degrading joke. Jose just looks guilty.

I purse my lips.

“The gift,” I speak again, “Behind you Dale, on the wall,” I speak casually and as he turns inquisitively, I quickly stalk forward.

I close the distance, raise my hand and the bottle of whiskey, I bend my arm back and I can hear almost everyone gasp. In one motion, I swing my arm forward and watch with satisfaction as the bottle collides with the back of Dale’s thick skull.

His black hair even seems to break through the glass... but as I watch the alcohol pour through his hair and down his collar, suit and neck... no blood appears. Even as the shattered glass twinkles to the ground as it tumbles over his perfect black suit.

Dale slowly turns around to face me, without wincing.

Not a scratch.

Not a bruise.

Nothing.

For fucks sake.

Dale is not impressed as he simply holds my gaze - his mind reeling. I know in this instance that he’s caught onto something I am hiding. Something big.

“I was designed to have a thick skull, kitten. What did you expect to happen?” Dale asks calmly and quietly, like a teacher talking to a dumb student.

As I decide to keep silent from now on, Casey can’t hold back a snort of amusement.

He can’t keep it in!

“She’s -!”

I never pounce so swiftly in my life as I do in that moment.

I launch myself at Casey and snap my hand over his lips.

“You little shit, you’re his problem now!” I hiss at Casey - cruelly and completely unnecessarily. However, I didn’t want him spilling the beans.

It wasn’t his place and he was still an impulsive 9 year old in that adult body.

Casey just grips my wrist and shoves me away.

“What the actual fuck, Alyssa?” Casey asks, completely disgusted by my savagery.

“Brownie Squad are back too, by the way,” Ace calls out, “They’re in the Red Lounge - drinking champagne and waiting for you.”

“Go breathe, doll,” Serge calls out.

“I second that,” Jose murmurs under his breath.

I glance at Dale and he just glares right through me, his knowing eyes, knowing of something but not knowing exactly what.

I smile at him and then back at all my beasts, V, and Casey before I stalk out and head towards the lift.

I leave without anyone stopping me.

My bad mood was probably grinding on all of them anyway.

"...pieces of shit...!" I snarl to myself to release some anger once I’m out of hearing range.

There really must be some kind of general ‘stages’ through grief.

Because first I had been in denial about their deaths for awhile. Then I was numb and depressed.

Now, now I was so fucking angry.

They were alive but I wanted to kill them for their betrayal - their stupid, stupid betrayal.

‘They loved me’ they claimed. Pssh, yeah fucking right. They loved my pussy, ass and throat.

I slam the button on the lift and wait impatiently for the old doors to open.

Once I jump into the lift I press the button for the Red Lounge. As I glance up, I watch as Dale walks out into the hall and catches my gaze while shaking pieces of glass out of his black hair.

I quickly slam the button in for the doors to close faster.

I flip Dale the bird as the lift doors click shut and then I slouch my shoulders.

And then, thanks to pregnancy hormones, I go from tough, strong and mean - to feeling utterly broken.

I close my eyes as tears suddenly flood forward like the dam of my emotions hasn’t just cracked open - but bursted apart until it’s non-fucking-existent.

I start to sob almost instantly. Everything I held back, is let go. I had been alone for a month, thinking they were all dead, pregnant and trapped in a city away from two governments that could blow me, my baby and my friends up at any time. I had just survived Hacksaw’s return. I now had my beasts back - which was relief. But I was still scared. I was terrified for my baby. I was terrified to tell my beasts of my condition and I was also happy that my girls were back.

It was all my emotions at once coming out as I sob through my feelings.

The moment the doors open to the Red Lounge I see my girls waiting at the doors - their hands to their chests as if they heard me crying before the doors opened.

Blue, Strawberry and Raven jump forward to embrace me in a strong hug, where I’m suffocated in the middle as I take a step out of the lift.

It’s exactly what I need as they fuss over me.

“Oh, boss, what happened?” Blue asks, worried.

“It’s okay, Alyssa, we’ve got you!” Strawberry also reassures me.

“Whatever we can do, we will help you. How can we help? Tell us!” Raven demands this as they finally release their hold upon me. They all stand back to look at me as I look at them, dressed in beautiful white and black tight fitting suits. I wipe away my tears and I almost tell them - but I decide to keep it to myself.

I didn’t need anyone else knowing, it’d mean my beasts would find out sooner rather than later.

“I’m just... I’m... sick of feeling helpless,” I shrug while sniffing away more tears, “I know it sounds silly. But - I only have dormant abilities. My super brain only turns on at the last moment in a fight - while Dale can just think like a weapon whenever he wants. Because he was trained. My reflexes are always dormant until I’m threatened or until that last moment when I could be killed in action. But it doesn’t make me feel safe. I want to be better. I need to know how to maximise my abilities. I need to know how to fight.”

“That is what we are trained to be, fighters!” Blue steps forward, her hands clasped together as her eyes shine bright with passion, “We’ve been learning our true purpose in our spare time, while in Avalon. We know now, that none of us were made to be whores. We were trained to be but our abilities are also dormant, as you say. We’ve been training almost every day now - you should join us, Alyssa! We’re made to be together, to stick together forever and have each other’s backs.”

“We’ve been learning to co-ordinate,” Raven adds, “Like a real squad.”

“We’ve also come to realise,” Strawberry pauses, her eyes pained as she adds, “...how wrong we were treated. The way they trained us since children - to be used for the sexual pleasure of others. We understand that we were... that we were... abused... and tortured... and raped,” Strawberry tries not to cry, but she tears up eventually in passion, not hurt, as she adds, “Never again, Alyssa. We never want to be hurt in that way again. You should join us. We’ll train together. We’ll protect one another. We’ll be safe. Forever. As long as we stay unified.”

“Yes,” I breathe my agreement and grin, “Yes - thank you. I’d love to train with all of you. I just need to take a breather.”

“Drinks?” Blue asks.

“Oh, no, I... ah... tell me what you’ve been doing these past four weeks? I know Jessica told you all that I was dead,” I say quickly, trying to distract from the topic of alcohol.

“That lying bitch,” Blue snarls, “Yes she lied! She also lied to STRIKE - they were tricked with false information about Atlantis planning to bomb Avalon. That’s why they went to Atlantis! Turns out it was all lies! Atlantis lured in STRIKE and just wanted to experiment on them - to create robots which were copy cats of them. It was all a big set up. We found out not long ago. Cherry looked after us, we thought we’d never see you again. We are so happy you are still alive, Alyssa.”

“Alive and kicking -” I pause as the lift doors behind me, audibly open.

Oh, no.

“Girls,” it’s Dale as he steps out and his hand almost instantly, within obvious and quick strides, lands upon the nape of my neck and squeezes firmly with a warning, “Make yourselves scarce. Your kitten is going to have a chat with her owner,” I can hear the arrogant smile in Dale’s stern tone as he addresses my girls.

“Set up a training area in one of the abandoned levels of the bunker,” I suggest, “I’ll be there with you shortly.”

“Sure thing, boss,” Blue, Strawberry and Raven answer me in unison. They nod and skip past into the lift, while I pull out of Dale’s hold and turn to face him.

He’s come alone - which is never, ever a good thing.

I do not ask the obvious, ‘where have you been this whole time?’ or ‘why did you lie to me?’ or ‘what went wrong?’.

No.

I say nothing like that.

I just face him and look straight up into his tyrian purple panther eyes.

Dale slowly raises a brow.

“You smell like a common drunk,” I choose my words carefully, “Your favourite alcohol is still at the bar if that’s why you came down here.”

“I saved your life,” Dale also chooses his words carefully, “Are you not aware why I sent you to FC?”

“Save the world, fuck your whore after as a reward,” I speak plainly.

“Absolutely, kitten,” Dale smirks, his serious demeanour suddenly becoming more casual, “Smart, whore-”

I can’t even take a second of it.

"Don’t use that tone with me!" I snarl and get a glint of satisfaction out of Dale for getting me to react so openly.

“Why is my kitten so... changed?” Dale asks, leaning in as if to inspect a lab experiment, tilting his head side to side needlessly, “Hmmm... were you that lost without us? You’ll always be our whore and we’ll always live to be with our whore - see? I can be romantic when I need to be.”

“I’m-”

I almost say it.

“You’re?” Dale asks, smirking, clearly ready to jump on my nervous tongue.

“I’m going to kill you,” I choke on the last word.

It’s my mistake.

Dale loses his casual smile right before his hand suddenly snakes out to grab my neck.

Argh, god damn it, he was so perfect at manipulation.

I try not to roll my eyes as he holds me back, raising my chin and staring into my leaking eyes, flushed cheeks and rosy red lips.

“You’ve been crying. You shed tears for your girls... but you shared violence and some sort of misplaced fury for your beasts?” Dale asks, “What is it? Speak your curious mind, Alyssa.”

“Fuck you,” I look away from his gaze, “In the ass.”

“I’ll fuck you in the ass, soon and guaranteed, since you asked so nicely... ” Dale can’t help but be sexy even while being typically mocking, “What else?”

“Go jump off a cliff,” I shrug while I keep avoiding his gaze.

“It won’t kill me,” Dale counters with a growl.

“Then go suck your own dick,” I can’t avoid his gaze any longer when he slides his hand up my neck and uses his thumb and finger to hold my jaw in place, his tyrian purple eyes catching mine and holding them... steadfast.

"What aren’t you telling me?" Dale somehow manages to snarl this while whispering.

“Did you learn that fucked up tone in military training?” I ask him.

“It’s in my nature to smell your lies,” Dale counters, uniquely, “It’s in my nature to dominant everyone and to rule without failure. I don’t lose. I never lose. You - you think you can keep a secret. It’s adorable.”

“You ‘lost’ in your weird ass secret mission to Atlantis - you were somehow dumb enough to fall for a plan set up by Jessica and a few numb nut regular humans in the Atlantis military-”

“You haven’t even asked what we did, how we did it or what we achieved,” Dale growls low, “Presuming any outcomes is foolish - even you should know that, Alyssa.”

“Presuming I am a dumb whore with a need to over react just because I want attention, is also foolish,” I whisper, glaring into his soul, “If you’re so smart - you’d be able to work it out.”

“Curious choice of words from yes, a dumb whore. You don’t ‘work out’ a secret... you hear it,” Dale narrows his eyes as they turn to slits, “Tell me... now... or do I have to force the answer from you?”

“Why are you being so aggressive?” I ask, suddenly, reaching up my hand to grab his wrist. I try to jerk his hand from my neck and jaw but I can’t make him budge.

“Don’t even try, kitten,” Dale’s mouth twitches in the corner, “I don’t like inconsistency and you’re being very inconsistent. Something has changed. About you. What the fuck happened? Did...” Dale pauses, almost regretting the statement he’s about to make, but he knows he must make it anyway, “Did you fall out of love... with m- with us?”

“I stumbled into love, with all of you, quite literally,” I respond, more lightly now, “You know, when I stumbled into your V.I.P bar upstairs in the Black Lair Clubhouse - when I first encountered you... drinking whiskey... and now, the irony, you still smell the same-” I smirk, because I’m just rubbing in the glass bottle I smashed over his head because I feel like being annoying.

Dale just holds me back, still refusing to let me go.

“I’ll hurt you and enjoy it,” Dale drawls, “You know I will - I’ll do what I have to and at this point, I’ll have to punish you anyway for disobedience.”

“Why don’t you just say you missed me and stop the act?” I ask.

Dale pauses then scoffs.

He leans in until we’re nose to nose.

“I don’t miss what will always be waiting for me,” Dale holds my gaze with a fire that is real, and a wit that can never be diminished, “How long was your throat bruised after I face fucked you four weeks ago?”

“I will not have sex with any of you, so lose the sexy tone and your intention to rip these clothes from my body. Also, empty your pathetic balls inside someone’s willing ass - because my legs are closed. They’re closed until someone apologises to me,” I explain.

Dale finally releases his hold on my neck and this time he pretends to back off - giving me a false sense of safety.

As I relax momentarily, he brings out his gun from the back of his pants.

“Maybe... you’ve lost trust in us?” Dale asks, “Should I hold the gun at you... see if you squirm... wriggle... blink... I’ll find answers one way or another,” Dale slowly points the barrel at me casually.

He has no direct target, other than my torso.

Which is too close.

I can’t help my body as I stumble backwards and tears prick my betraying eyes.

“Don’t,” I gasp in a breath, “Put it down... Dale... it’s not a joke...”

Dale shrugs and pretends to point the gun at me for a couple of more seconds - teasing me like a typical douche bag male.

I try to keep my calm.

I can’t.

"Point the fucking gun down!" I scream it at him, “To you, it’s a joke! To me - it’s life or death. And you... you of all people, you... you couldn’t handle the... answer... the ‘secret’.”

“You know I won’t kill you... so you’re clearly not speaking of your life...” Dale murmurs, to himself, as he drops his hand holding the gun. He seems to think inward, his heart clouds his eyes as he seems to deny it. Then he thinks it, denies it again... and then faces it. I watch as Dale hurriedly pockets his gun in the back of his pants. In a sudden rush that is so uncoordinated, I wish I can film this moment.

I just hold my hands in front of my stomach as I straighten my back and he straightens his.

I can’t say it, even now.

Dale just looks so distraught, it’s like he’s just realised I’m a female.

An actual female.

With a female body.

That does female things.

You know - like create babies.

“You...” Dale’s voice is broken and strange, like he’s speaking for the first time. It’s so odd but also beautiful - like the first time in his life that he speaks without the training he’s been taught. He sounds... less beast... more man, “You’re pregnant,” he gulps on that last word, his eyes for the first time, without a hint of menace.

“It’s a girl,” I whisper...

...and suddenly... the world aligns as Dale’s eyes flicker... with joy.

Actual excitement - !

Until, of course, a rush of instruction and brain washing seems to flood back into his gaze.

So fast, it’s like the brief beautiful moment before didn’t exist at all. The world aligned with the sun and the moon and now it was passing back into it’s normal orbit of complete and utter tragic normalcy.

Dale narrows his eyes and loses his smile as the darkness returns.

“Kitten...” Dale growls, ”Why the fuck didn’t you tell me?"

I open my mouth to respond with a standard response.

But then I think of something much better as my lips snap back shut and I smirk, wide and true.

I take a moment to revel in the next words that will leave my smart ass mouth.

“Why should I tell you?” I raise my chin, cocky and cheeky as well as smug, “After all, Ultima, boss... lil ’lightning isn’t yours.”

I wasn’t even sure if my statement was correct. But it’s a bombshell never the less.

And Dale’s mouth flattens into a line. His cheek twitches.

“Disappointed?” I ask, raising a cocky brow.

“You mistake my look for regret - instead I’m just a little pissed off that your attitude is on longer refined... not a hint of compliance. None.”

“I’m to be a mother,” I respond, with fierce and true ferocity, “I am sorry, Dale - but I am no longer a kitten. I’m a lioness. I’ll kill anyone who tries to harm my child. I’ll do anything.”

“I know I love submission, complete and total in every way... but that was curiously... sexy, sweet pea,” Dale slowly smirks. He also winks.

I blink through his comment.

Argh.

“Seriously. Stop trying to turn me on with your fucking pheromones you seep at will, you piece of shit. For fucks sake, Dale - please, if I’m in the mood to fuck - I’ll let you know. Right now, lil’ lightning comes first... okay?”

“Lil’ lightning,” Dale tests the name on his tongue, before staring boldly at my stomach, “...welcome to the family... with four very protective fathers and one very dangerous mother.”

Ah - okay.

That was a little better.

A small smile perks up the corners of my mouth at this because for a second time, I hear the man in Dale’s tone again for a brief moment. Not the beast.

And for that brief moment, once again - the world swiftly and shortly aligns.

Living in dystopia meant peace was nothing except a rare passing hope or a fleeting moment in a world overflowing with painful deaths, disease, greed, blood and money.

So, I choose to remember this moment.

I remember it as one of the best.

It’s something I hold onto.

Especially since soon it’d be the only thing that’d keep me thinking straight - once that dream of peace was once again, ripped to shreds and scattered to the corners of the doomed earth.

So, I remember.

It’s what you do when everything inevitably turns to shit.

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