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

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Chapter 5: A Rival Princess and a Queen

I called the members of STRIKE - Dale, Serge, Ace and Jose - my beasts, for very good reason. They were super soldiers that when together, towered over everyone. They could dominate literally any situation thrown their way. Their pure muscle tone could very well blind you. Their good looks could break you. But, above all, they all had a purpose towards a greater puzzle - that when solved - equaled pure domination. All their roles to play were important. Dale had leopard purple eyes and an Ultimate brain, Serge had lightening and a fierce temper, Jose had a cool temperament but could make someone scream just by snapping their pinky finger, while Ace was humorous while his talent with guns was renown and hugely feared.

They all grew up together in a lab, like my Brownie Squad - except STRIKE were trained by their exact designs - to kill and win wars.

They had never been apart, never... until Frankincense City was invaded.

It was clear that when apart, STRIKE were lost, but together, they would be near to impossible to contain.

Now, I walk with a barely upright Rueben as he stumbles over to witness the new show.

“Soldiers,” Rueben laughs in my ear, spit hitting my cheek as he blurts out the words, “... no more, Alyssa. They’re just sex toys now - like I said. I told you... I told you... this is what they’re good for. Ha! Let’s watch. I can’t wait. Perhaps I should buy you a personal show, whore, you know you’d love it.”

“I think you should just focus on standing up straight,” I dismiss him with a roll of my eyes, but Reuben just shrugs and doesn’t care.

“You are such a bitch... a bitch in need of protection... don’t worry, whore, you got me... you got me... you got me,” Reuben rambles repetitively to himself. Sober - he could negotiate and talk his way out of anything. Drunk, he was an idiot. A simple, plain bred idiot. I often wondered if his parents were actually blood related. Because sometimes he was just really fucking stupid - to the maximum degree.

But then again, having Ultimate genes meant everyone around me always seemed a little slow for my liking. I could never keep to the slow pace of most people. I used to never have friends in FC because of it, until STRIKE made me feel belonged and then I found my girls, who were designed to follow my rules.

The funny thing was that the Brownie Squad were made to sexually satisfy STRIKE; to help tame the unstoppable beasts.

In the end, it turned out Blue, Strawberry and Raven could only love each other dearly... neither did they like men.

And as for I... I had escaped life growing up in a lab. I grew up like most kids - and I had fallen for the first men to turn my world upside down... while making me feel like only I mattered... in a degrading but sexy way, of course.

So, while my girls loved one another, I could only seem to have thoughts for STRIKE... every... single... damn... one of them.

And two had already betrayed me and pissed me off. The other two... were stuck in a cage and holding my full attention.

I needed some cheering up and I was about to get exactly that.

While the crowd gathers closer to witness the show, I see Jessica huddling off to the right of the crowd, near the front... while I trail behind Reuben. He pushes and shoves citizens out of the way, so he can get front row viewing. No one messes with the President’s son, so we reach the front without a fuss.

As I stand just behind Reuben’s shoulder, Ace and Jose are both generally looking over the crowd. I doubt they recognised Dale and Serge in those stupid wigs - so that is why they keep randomly searching heads.

They don’t look at the front row like I’m hoping they will.

Instead, they keep looking over me.

While I’m trying to glare them into finding my eyes - a giant of a woman comes striding out from the other side of the wagon.

“Ladies and gent’s of Avalon - I’m Gertrude and these are my Playboy Beasts. Yes, we have arrived!” she calls out while wearing a red suit and holding a microphone.

While the crowd claps and most of the girls ‘ooo’ and ‘ahhh’ - I do something different.

I raise my hand to my mouth and I cough loudly - while half yelling, “Snipers suuuuck!”

While a few people near by look at me funny - two sets of eyes lock onto me from the cage.

I see Ace’s eyes widen and Jose steps forward and grabs the bars.

Jose can’t believe it - Ace is already smirking, he is genuinely happy.

Well - at least two of my beasts missed me.

“Firstly -” Gertrude halts after looking over her shoulder to glare at Jose for daring to touch the bars. Only when he backs off, does Gertrude turn back around and continue to address the crowd, ”Firstly, we’ll introduce you to their skills... some spicy dancing! And if you like what you see... come to me and I’ll take your money in exchange for being put into the cage with both Playboys. Be warned, these beasts bite. After you pay, you may ask them to do to you whatever your heart desires. I do have to warn you that they take their job seriously and in the past many clients have received exactly to the word of what they’ve asked for... so be clear and don’t ask to get impregnated if you don’t want to have a giant baby growing in your belly... okay, now that I have given you the heads up... let the show begin...!”

With Gertrude’s precursory statements, the wagon lights dim and disco balls pop down from the ceiling. While the lights turn on the and music begins, Ace and Jose have to twirl around on their feet so their backs are to the crowd.

I glance at Dale and Serge - who both look traumatised and angry.

As the bass drops, both caged beasts twirl their hips and the crowd screams in delight.

My mouth slowly pulls into a grin... until the lights and the music abruptly cut out with an electrical current... ‘mysteriously’ flowing from Serge’s hand.

While some of the crowd gasp in shock, Reuben boos in disappointment but has no idea the electrical charge was from a certain beast close by.

I quickly slip back into the crowd while Reuben is preoccupied with being upset again.

As I look around for a way to get to Dale and Serge... just so I can gloat... I slip through streams of people until I pop up next to them. I prepare to intercept Jessica too... but she is gone.

“Where’s little red riding hood?” I ask, casually, as Serge cocks an eyebrow at me and Dale doesn’t meet my gaze.

“You looking for a charge, doll?” Serge asks, quietly but with not enough anger for me to believe him.

“You’re not leaving this area without giving me what I want, kitten,” Dale speaks to me non-chalantly while his gaze is focused on the cage.

“Sorry, Dale, but until you learn to behave... you’ll know nothing... because I’ll never tell you what Jessica wants to hear.”

“I just want Casey’s location,” Dale snarls, now meeting my gaze abruptly, “...I don’t care about anything else. I will hurt you if you don’t start thinking straight, Alyssa. Don’t forget what I’m capable of.”

“In that stupid blonde wig,” I whisper, far too happily, “You don’t look like a threat, Dale... you just look like Jessica’s bitch!”

While Serge snorts - Dale narrows his eyes but he isn’t offended... because my words don’t impact him.

"Patience... whore,” Dale lowers his tone and glares at me after hissing the reply.

I pause, baffled again by his choice words.

“We can’t seem to fix the issue with the electricity... round 2 has come early, folks. First come, first served - oh, hello there... ” I turn to see Gertrude speak with Jessica.

And suddenly I am turning my front back to the cage.

She wouldn’t.

But... oh yes - she would.

“What does she think she’s doing?” I whisper to myself as Jessica is escorted into the wagon through a back door. A moment later she is ushered into the caged in area with Ace and Jose.

“What do you want, little lady?” Ace asks politely, even though he also looks tired - like he’s asked this question too many times.

“Just to touch you and feel your strength,” Jessica answers and I tilt my head as I watch the situation unfold with unblinking eyes.

“Don’t get jeaulous of an act they’re forced to put on,” Serge whispers next to my ear - mockingly, “Don’t be stupid, Alyssa.”

“Don’t talk to me, I thought you hated me... what the fuck is she doing?" I almost yell out the question as she goes from running her hands over their chests, to dropping to her knees.

Jose and Ace step in either side of her and start thrusting their leather clad hips towards her face.

“You wouldn’t be able to breathe... if these pants came off...” I hear Ace taunt her and Jessica’s face soon turns red very quickly.

“What’s happening?” I ask, now more quietly and to myself.

“It’s not for the show... Alyssa... she’s doing me a favour,” Dale explains, stepping closer to me now, “So... you ready to tell me where lab Singular is, kitten? Casey could be there... if you give a shit at all about him you’ll tell me where he resides.”

“I know where he is - I’ll tell you but it’s the only thing I’ll say. For his sake. But I won’t help Jessica any further. Lab Singular is on the west outskirts of Avalon, near the border in a skyscraper for Defensive Technologies. It’s the most accurate information I could gather,” I watch Dale hesitate before he wants to reply.

But he doesn’t get to as Jessica suddenly demands to be rushed out of the cage - after having her face thrust into for a few minutes, by my two beasts.

She whispers to Gertrude... who pauses and can’t quite believe her ears.

She shakes her head but Jessica bargains some more.

Jessica, of course, succeeds.

Gertrude hands the little red riding hood before her, two remotes in slow motion.

“The show’s over!” Gertrude calls out, “More precisely... the show has been sold.”

Jessica and Gertrude both smile and nod.

I watch in fascination as Jessica has the cage opened and the beasts are ushered out towards her.

“You are mine now,” I hear her say to Ace and Jose, who both shrug and pretend not to care.

As Jessica turns and starts towards us - sirens wail in the distance.

“Parties over,” Serge growls happily, relieved.

As I glance up, Reuben is passed out on the tiled floor while his guards converse about what to do.

“This way!” Jessica suddenly runs forwards, “Let’s go... I know where to hide.”

Jessica is forceful and confident in giving the order.

While she strives ahead, Ace and Jose look around in a daze between Dale, Serge and I.

They come to a slow halt before us, wearing nothing but black leather pants.

“Sweet holy goddess,” Ace murmurs, his eyes travelling over me, “Sweet lightening bolt...” he glances over Serge, “Sweet Lord,” as Ace grins at Dale, Dale just looks impatient to get out of the area away from the ensuing authorities, even as he is relieved at the same time to have his men all back with him.

Obviously something had gone sour here and someone or something had been reported.

“This way,” Dale growls and he turns to follow Jessica - so we all do.

“I can’t believe it’s you,” Jose whispers in my ear and kisses my cheek as he hurries along side my right.

Ace is on my left, his hand on the small of my back.

“I never thought I’d see life again out of that cage... we’re okay now, but I can’t believe it... a client ended up being the one to save us,” Ace speaks to himself, in obvious awe of Jessica’s bargaining.

I say nothing as we hop behind some trees and hurry into a deserted narrow alley way.

Jessica is waiting for us, making a call to get quick transport out of here.

She quickly hangs up once she is done to watch the five of us slow as we approach her.

“Preferably you can tell me what I want to know now - and we can make peace before I allow you access back into my home... please, Alyssa,” Jessica decides to use a bossy tone with me, clearly feeling empowered after saving two of Dale’s best friends.

“Hmmm, let me think about it,” I reply, sarcastically.

“Alyssa, I’d love to know everything you said you heard. But I don’t trust you after you and Dale clearly had some sort of falling out with your friendship that I wasn’t aware of. But please, if you won’t tell me anything, at least tell Dale where the lab is... his friends are here now but there could be more people being experimented on there. Your people,” Jessica tries so hard to be diplomatic and reasonable.

I pause and think of the best reply while my four beasts witness the argument.

Two were confused and trying to understand the dynamics, while Dale looked uncomfortable and Serge just looked amused.

“I told Dale where the lab was,” I murmur, “And I’m not sure I want to go back with you to your home, welcome or not.”

“...then your use is over for me!” Jessica snaps, sounding emotionally distressed as she looks around frantically. Almost like she is about to do something stupid and she is looking for a sign not to do it.

She doesn’t find such a sign.

I watch as she turns to Dale and Serge.

“I’m sorry,” she apologises to them, “She’s no longer a friend and therefore she is too risky for my home... okay? I hope you understand what I must do next.”

Jessica turns back to me while reaching under the hem of her dress.

She pulls out a black gun that was strapped to her thigh and she easily flips off the safety while pointing the gun at my head.

“I can’t risk everything I’ve acheived so far. You know too much and I can’t risk you relaying anything to Reuben, do you understand, Alyssa?” I find the question insulting, but as I glance casually back at my beasts - I wait for a reaction.

Serge looks furious, Ace and Jose look baffled and Dale... Dale looks conflicted.

But not for long.

“I have nothing to say, go ahead, try to kill me,” I challenge her and she frowns - but she can’t pull the trigger.

Because she is quickly intercepted.

Dale steps forward and forces the gun out of Jessica’s hand until it rests in his palm.

And he points it at her head.

Jessica gasps and has no idea how else to react as my beasts suddenly turn on her.

They come to stand in front of me, protectively.

“You’re not allowed to play with guns,” Dale changes his tone while addressing Jessica.

While he sounded reasonble with Jessica in my previous encounters with them conversing... now he sounds like himself.

“This must be Frank City humour, I am thoroughly confused,” Jessica holds up her hands in a mock surrender, but her eyes search Dale’s frantically. After a brief moment, reality seems to settle in, “Dale...” she chokes on his name - but he quickly cuts her off.

“Don’t start to think I haven’t broken many hearts before you... but Jess, you’re still my girl... I just won’t have anyone hold a gun against my k-... friend,” Dale changes his tone again - clearly trying to cover for our protection.

As the sirens get closer and authorities start shining their torches around the event area not far from our alley way - Jessica pauses.

She starts to see Dale get nervous - as we all do.

And then suddenly her confidence is back.

“Without me, you’ll all be imprisoned. You need me alive, put down the gun,” Jessica is confident as she responds to defuse the situation, “Our transport is around the corner... we’ll leave... even though I should report you for violent behaviour,” she snaps this at Dale, before regaining her calm neutrality, “But we’re not leaving until I find out who your ‘friend’ is...” she looks over Dale’s shoulder and I edge through my beasts to stand before her, “Who are you, really, Alyssa? I’ll only let you hide with me if you tell me the truth. And you will... because you need my protection.”

“I’ll gladly tell you who I am. The Frankincense City Gang of Shadows had a princess once, Jessica. Perhaps you’ve heard of her. Just so you know for future reference - I’m that Princess,” I explain simply, “I’m the Princess of the Shadows.”

Jess listens tentatively, but not without holding in her emotion to respond with her best leadership skills.

“Well, princess... in my house, in my city, I’m the Queen. I make the rules... and I provide the protection,” Jessica raises her brow slowly, “Do you understand?”

“I’ll let you be the queen... on one condition,” I murmur... far too amused.

“Which is what, Alyssa? You have no weight against me. You need me. I’m the only one in a position to bargain here.”

“Hmm, no you’re not, Jessica. Because if you do what I ask - I’ll continue to help you. So, this is all you have to promise, Queen Jessica. In case it already isn’t official, you’re breaking up with the King... and you’ll never lay a hand on him again.”

She takes a moment to realise the King is my reference to Dale.

“I guess this princess had a past I’m unaware of?” Jessica can’t help herself, “Exes? I suppose you’ve dated all of these men in the past at one stage or another.”

“Jess, you have no idea,” I smile.

“Believe me, Alyssa, an angry ex I can handle - been there, done that,” Jessica shrugs like she’s trying to convince herself that my past relations with these beasts don’t scare her.

I decide to reign on her parade.

“I’m not an ex, Jess,” I speak, smugly, “- you could say... I’m equivalent to their soul mates.”

"Their?”

I choose not to explain myself further.

“Oh, nothing you’d understand.”

“If you’re speaking of polygamy, Alyssa... that’s... that’s disgusting... and wrong!" Jessica sure seems to believe that.

“Your -“... screwed up mouth, your scrunched nose and judgemental green orbs were the only things disgusting here.

“That’s enough chit chat,” Dale snarls, cutting in as his patience officially snaps, “We’re out of here, we don’t have time for an ethics debate - let’s move.”

Damn, the poor beast was holding so much of himself back.

I could feel the restraint.

If only Jessica knew who she’d got involved with - the master mind... the madness... the quick cruelty lurking beneath.

Only I knew what Dale was really like... what they were all like.

“But, Dale,” Jessica has to have the last day, ” Polygamy is-” Dale cuts Jess off before she can protest.

“I’m sorry... Jessica... but you’re the only one who shares that opinion about polygamy right now. Let’s move it,” Dale barks the order, clearly not happy about the authorities scanning further and getting closer to searching our alley way next.

Jessica has a tight lipped smile but she agrees while glaring at the gun still in Dale’s possessive hand.

He was holding it like he’s life depended on it.

I guess it had been a long time coming.

Let’s just say the gun fit into his hand better than a damn screw driver.

Jessica turns to lead the way back to our transport out of here, and I can’t help but think... there were still plenty of issues to sort out and power plays to be made.

The poor soul.

The fun hadn’t even begun yet.

Jessica had no idea what was coming her way.

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